It has been said before: those who come up with a drug as effective as exercise become wealthy. In corona time, specialists therefore advise to keep moving. “Enough exercise, so not too little and not too much, is one of the most efficient ways to boost your immune system.”
That says sports physician Ruud van Thienen to the Flemish Sporza. “If you exercise properly, you can reduce your chance of a viral respiratory infection by 50 percent. That is gigantic. A medicine will never be able to do that, ”the doctor continues.
“Most people who feel well, and therefore sleep well and eat healthy, but do not exercise, still get 3 or 4 viral infections per year. They will not always be deathly ill, but they will have a cold, for example. Those who exercise enough will only have such an infection once or twice a year. That effect has been known for a long time and generally applies to most colds or coronaviruses. Whether this also applies to this specific new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) cannot be said with certainty at the moment. ”
According to the most recent studies, sports also protect against cancer. “White blood cells attack incipient tumors. So the risk of cancer is also 20 to 50 percent lower in people who exercise sufficiently. Especially for breast, stomach, ovarian and colorectal cancer, this has already been clearly demonstrated, ”explains Van Thienen.
Sports would also have a positive effect on the functioning of our brain. “Exercise increases the plasticity of brain cells,” says the sports doctor. “If you cycle for half an hour and then read a book, you will remember 10 to 20 percent more days after that than if you did not exercise. So it is best to start with half an hour of sports every school or working day. ”
For some time now, psychologists have been advising depressed people to exercise more. Van Thienen: “You can officially treat depression with sport. That is the curative effect, but there is also a preventive effect. Sometimes I am genuinely sorry for people who don’t exercise. If you are fitter, life will run easier even if you have the same concerns. ”
How many sports?
But how much do you have to move for the maximum effect? “The WHO recommends that you exercise moderately for 150 minutes or half of it intensively. I say: sweat for half an hour to 40 minutes 3 or 4 times a week. This will allow you to earn all the health benefits of exercising. ”
“It doesn’t matter how you do that. Walking is still better than doing nothing, but it is usually not enough to reap the benefits of sports. That’s why I say you should at least sweat. ” Van Thienen recommends the 60-60 rule: exercise for 60 minutes at 60 percent of your capacity.
Difficult to keep up? Give it a try for 4 to 6 weeks and you will automatically notice the difference. “You feel better, you sleep better, your mood is better, … After that 4th or 5th week, the benefits of sports speak for themselves,” said the expert.