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Can Exercise Cause Inflammation in the Body?

by
author image Megan Doyle
Megan Doyle is a scientist, researcher and writer. She has a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Texas and began writing professionally after receiving a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia.
Can Exercise Cause Inflammation in the Body?
Exercise affects acute and chronic inflammation Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Exercise provides many health benefits and has a significant impact on many processes in your body. For example, you affect both acute and chronic inflammation when working out. You can experience acute inflammation after exercise while reducing your overall level of systemic inflammation. Acute inflammation that occurs after exercise can cause temporary discomfort but the reduction of chronic inflammation can have a long-term, positive effect on your health.

Health Benefits of Exercise

Regular exercise can have a very positive impact on your health. Exercise can improve your mood by stimulating the production of various chemicals in the brain that promote happiness and reduce stress. In addition, exercise can protect you from chronic diseases like osteoporosis, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. People who work out frequently are also able to maintain better control of their weight and tend to have an elevated energy level and sex drive.

Process of Inflammation

Youi can separate inflammation into two categories, acute inflammation which occurs over a short period of time and chronic inflammation which happens over longer time frames. Acute inflammation happens immediately following an injury. Blood flow will increase in the area around the injury, and fluid, blood proteins and white blood cells will move into the tissue. Inflammation is generally part of a healthy immune response; however, sometimes this process becomes uncontrolled. This may lead to a state of chronic inflammation that can trigger the development of diseases like atherosclerosis and cancer.

Exercise and Acute Inflammation

Strenuous exercise can cause injuries to your muscles or joints and lead to acute inflammation. You can prevent some exercise-induced injuries by avoiding overexertion and by ensuring that you use proper technique during your workout. During normal exercise, however, some small muscle tears are still likely to occur. Micro-injuries are usually accompanied by delayed-onset muscular soreness and generally heal quickly.

Exercise and Chronic Inflammation

Systemic inflammation is a critical component in the development of cardiovascular disease. Individuals with chronic inflammation often have high levels of C-reactive protein -- a biomarker that correlates with the amount of inflammation in the body. Elevated C-reactive protein levels are significantly reduced in individuals who engage in moderate to intense physical activity compared to those who do not exercise.

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