Exercise can affect immunity positively or negatively. Acute aerobic exercise transiently increases NK cell numbers and activity. Overtraining without adequate periods of rest and recovery can diminish NK- and T-cell functions and increase incidence of infectious diseases. Several studies have reported an association between physical inactivity and risk of colon cancer, and animal tumorigenesis experiments tend to show that regular exercise reduces tumour burden. Even moderate exercise in very frail elderly people can reduce both NK- and T-cell functions, quite contrary to the effects of moderate endurance exercise on increasing resistance to infectious disease in normal subjects. Exercise increases lifespan in rats fed ad libitum. The combination of exercise and severe food restriction found in patients with anorexia nervosa leads (as in experimental animals) to morbid immunosuppression.
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