Without a doubt exercise can make a massive difference in your life.

It’s the best way to burn fat, build muscle, increase flexibility, and preserve bone density. It’s also a given that working out can alleviate depression and anxiety, help you think clearer, and fortify self- esteem. Did you also know that currently there are many theories that claim that exercise can boost your immune system?

Here’s what they’re saying:

Exercise raises body temperature. Bacteria and viruses require a warm environment to thrive, but too much heat can kill them. That’s why you spike a fever (the body’s natural response) when you’re ill. An increase in body temperature caused by exercise may help you fight off infections. It appears that staying active is not only an ideal plan to combat the cold and flu season, it’s a perfect way to maintain your vim and vigor all year long!

Exercise reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol is produced in the body by stress, bad eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle, and a host of other factors. This nasty hormone has been linked to increased fat storage, fatigue, and lower testosterone levels in men. Regular exercise, even as little as 20 minutes per day has been shown to reduce cortisol and protect the body’s immune system from disease.

Exercise revs up your metabolism to fight against infections. When you move, your circulatory system moves with you. This causes infection fighting white blood cells and antibodies to pulsate through your blood stream more quickly, meaning that they can attack and defeat infections and pathogens more quickly as well! Also, the faster pace of breathing during exercise helps expel a lot of bad bacteria from your nose, throat and lungs. While you should never exercise while you’re ill (fever, chills, cough), it may prove to be your best defense against pesky bugs and infections in the long run.

Be careful not to overdo it. A moderate exercise program is more than sufficient to fortify your immune system. Regular walking, cycling, swimming, weight training or even participation in a sport can bolster your immunity against disease. Over-training just to produce a super-duper effect on your immune system can prove to be counter- productive. Such an approach could take its toll on your muscles and joints by taxing them too extremely. Adhere to a regular exercise program, challenge yourself, have fun and stay well!

Tom Bonanti is a Ft. Lauderdale- based trainer, fitness writer and massage therapist. His column appears exclusively in Hotspots. Tom welcomes your comments at