Several studies in the past have shown that exercise could benefit both the young and the old in more ways than one. A new study has now shown that exercise not only helps the elderly in protecting their bones, it also helps boost the immune function, thus reducing the risk of Upper Respiratory Infections(URI). URIs, which could be caused by virus, bacteria or other organisms, are the most common reason for absence from school or work, and a frequent problem in the ambulatory setting. In the elderly, it becomes a more serious problem because as people advance in age, the immune system function declines making them less resistant to microorganisms.
In the study, nearly 45 men and women aged at an average of 65 years exercised doing both resistance training and endurance training for twelve months. Each exercise was done for a total of 60 minutes each week. The levels of secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA), a biological marker of immune function found in saliva, which is often used by researchers to determine the role of stress on immune function, was tested before training and at 4 and 12 months after training. Researchers found that the levels of SIgA increased with exercise and as the time of exercise increased, so, too, did the levels of SIgA. The researchers thus concluded that regular moderate exercise enhances the mucosal immune function in elderly people.