Immune responses to resistance exercise

Exerc Immunol Rev. 2012:18:8-41.


Resistance exercise induces changes in leukocyte redistribution, phenotypical surface expression and leukocyte functionality. Several factors have been shown to alter the temporal pattern and/or magnitude of response including manipulation of acute program variables, the aging process, and nutritional supplementation. Rest period length and load can modify the temporal pattern and/or magnitude of leukocytosis post exercise. Aging diminishes both the duration and magnitude of the post exercise leukocytosis and reduces leukocyte functionality. The few studies that assessed the effects of nutritional supplements (e.g., carbohydrate, whey protein, caffeine) peri-resistance exercise showed minimal effects on leukocyte responses. Sex differences exist in the timing and magnitude of leukocyte infiltration into skeletal muscle. The immune response to resistance exercise is only a small part of the recovery paradigm. A better understanding of how acute program variables and other factors such as aging, sex and nutritional supplementation affect the immune response to resistance exercise is important in the context of improving recovery, performance and health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Elder Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / immunology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Leukocytes / immunology*
  • Leukocytosis / immunology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / immunology
  • Resistance Training*
  • Rest
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Physiological / immunology
  • Time Factors