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KEY POINTS:

1. Physical activity strengthens your immune system to help fight off bacteria, viruses and other pathogens - regular consistent exercise reduces your chances of getting sick.

2. Less is more: A moderate amount of exercise (5-6 hours per week) reduces your risk of illnesses and infections, while a high volume and intensity of exercise can compromise your immune system. 

3. Close social bonds also decreases your risk of illness, so exercising with a friend or family member gives you a double boost of immunity!

“Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness.” -Edward Stanley

In my first Move More message, I indicated that sitting makes us unhealthy. Today’s message – which is one of my mantras – is that a little change goes a long way. That’s why I always focus on being 1% better. You can easily do things 1% better. So can I. And a series of 1% changes pay off big time.

For example, 1% of your day is 15 minutes. 15 minutes of exercise is enough to reduce your risk of breast and colon cancer by 24-50% - if you do it consistently!

So about sitting: every 20 minutes or so, stand up and stretch and move around. Sprinkle small amounts of movement throughout the day. You will think more clearly, feel energized and combat the damage that all-day-sitting imposes on your body. And you will be less likely to contract a chronic disease in your lifetime.

Here’s what else is great about moving more: you strengthen your immune system, which works to fight off viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. It’s like chemical and biological warfare inside the body. When the system works well, we fight off invaders and stay healthy. When the system is ineffective, we get sick.

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that people who exercise regularly experience fewer illnesses and infections than those who do not.

But here’s a finding that might surprise you: exercising beyond a moderate level does not improve immunity further. Quite the opposite, in fact. When athletes train at an excessively higher intensity than normal for extended periods, they experience a significant increase in illnesses. The immune system is compromised and it's easier to get sick.

If you are a moderate exerciser, you may have noticed that you take fewer sick days than your coworkers. Or you might be the only one of your group of friends who doesn’t catch the cold going around. This isn’t just your imagination. Numerous studies have demonstrated that regular, moderate exercise improves how well your immune system works.

Increase your activity levels to a moderate amount, about five or six hours each week, and you can expect to experience fewer illnesses over the course of the year.

And here’s a fun fact: research from Carnegie Mellon University reported that people with good social bonds (close relationships with friends and family) are less susceptible than others to the common cold. So exercising with friends offers a double boost of health!

Research shows that people who exercise at a moderate level consistently get sick the least. So build in some exercise to your routine every day. If you're thinking that you don't have time, remember that by taking a little time up front, you'll be avoiding days and days of illness down the road. If you think that you don't have time to exercise, the reality is that you can't afford not to. Here's a short 3 min video I did for TSN on how running helps keep you healthy. Check it out!

Today's POWER-UP: What's the best time of day to exercise?

If there is one question that I get more often than any other it’s what is the best time of day to train? The answer is that the best time of day to train, is the time of day when you can train consistently.

If that is first thing in the morning, then that’s great. If it is on your lunch break, fantastic. If it is in the evening, brilliant.

There are benefits to each time of day. If you work out first thing in the morning you are increasing your metabolism to get the day started and that will help you all day long. Not to mention you are flooding your brain with all sorts of chemicals and hormones that will help you to think better all day long.

Lunchtime can also be terrific as it will give you a surge of energy that can help you avoid the afternoon blah’s. My colleague Robin Sharma, author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, calls this “the second wind workout”.

Afternoon and evening workouts take advantage of the natural increases in strength and endurance that happen with changes in our circadian rhythms and can help to break down all the stress hormones that you’ve built up during the day.

So the message is to do what works best for you and what you can do consistently.

Exercise each day for at least 15 minutes. Any type of physical activity counts. Walking, gardening, stretching, running, swimming, yoga, strength training and paddle-boarding are all good examples of activities that supercharge your health and fitness.

Consistency is key, so remember that what gets scheduled gets accomplished. Program training into your calendar and make it a high priority.