The anti-inflammatory effects of exercise: mechanisms and implications for the prevention and treatment of disease

Nat Rev Immunol. 2011 Aug 5;11(9):607-15. doi: 10.1038/nri3041.


Regular exercise reduces the risk of chronic metabolic and cardiorespiratory diseases, in part because exercise exerts anti-inflammatory effects. However, these effects are also likely to be responsible for the suppressed immunity that makes elite athletes more susceptible to infections. The anti-inflammatory effects of regular exercise may be mediated via both a reduction in visceral fat mass (with a subsequent decreased release of adipokines) and the induction of an anti-inflammatory environment with each bout of exercise. In this Review, we focus on the known mechanisms by which exercise - both acute and chronic - exerts its anti-inflammatory effects, and we discuss the implications of these effects for the prevention and treatment of disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / biosynthesis
  • Adipokines / blood
  • Adipokines / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Athletes
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Mice
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Toll-Like Receptors / biosynthesis


  • Adipokines
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Lipids
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Epinephrine