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Immunological outcomes of exercise in older adults

Authors David S Senchina, Marian L Kohut

Published 15 April 2007 Volume 2007:2(1) Pages 3—16


David S Senchina1, Marian L Kohut2

1Biology Department, Drake University, Des Moines, IA, USA; 2Gerontology Program, Department of Health and Human Performance, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA

Abstract: Aging is associated with a dysregulation of the immune system known as immunosenescence. Immunosenescence involves cellular and molecular alterations that impact both innate and adaptive immunity, leading to increased incidences of infectious disease morbidity and mortality as well as heightened rates of other immune disorders such as autoimmunity, cancer, and inflammatory conditions. While current data suggests physical activity may be an effective and logistically easy strategy for counteracting immunosenescence, it is currently underutilized in clinical settings. Long-term, moderate physical activity interventions in geriatric populations appear to be associated with several benefits including reduction in infectious disease risk, increased rates of vaccine efficacy, and improvements in both physical and psychosocial aspects of daily living. Exercise may also represent a viable therapy in patients for whom pharmacological treatment is unavailable, ineffective, or inappropriate. The effects of exercise impact multiple aspects of immune response including T cell phenotype and proliferation, antibody response to vaccination, and cytokine production. However, an underlying mechanism by which exercise affects numerous cell types and responses remains to be identified. Given this evidence, an increase in the use of physical activity programs by the healthcare community may result in improved health of geriatric populations.

Keywords: exercise, immunosenescence

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