[The effects of physical exercise on the immune system]

Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2003 Jul 12;147(28):1347-51.
[Article in Dutch]


Physical exercise has numerous effects on the human body, including the immune system. After strenuous exercise, athletes pass through a period of impaired immune resistance. During this period, athletes are theoretically more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections, although a causal relation has never been demonstrated. Moderate exercise seems to have a beneficial effect on the immune function, which could protect against upper respiratory tract infections. Exercise has effects on both the humoral and the cellular immune system. Doping products, except glucocorticoids, only have modest effects on the immune system, although erythropoietin may, in rare cases, cause severe side-effects. Glutamine and vitamin C could, hypothetically, prevent the negative effects of strenuous exercise on the immune function, but further studies are needed to demonstrate and explain these effects.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibody Formation
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Nutritional Status
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology*
  • Sports