Inflammation, disease and the role of exercise
Inflammation is the way the body protects itself and is an essential part of the immune system. However, severe and chronic inflammation is an aspect of many age related diseases. Scientists believe that the lifelong accumulation of damage from chronic inflammation is a major contributor to the process of ageing. Chronic inflammation can cause diseases including arthritis and cancer.
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin and the UK's Medical Research Council Mitochondrial Biology Unit have published research involving macrophages (white blood cells that are like biological dustbins) role in inflammation and how the cells change the activity in the mitochondria (present in nearly all cells, the cell powerhouse that generates ATP, the cells primary source of energy). The researchers discovered that during inflammation the macrophages halt the mitochondria's production of energy and turn them instead to producing toxic compounds that promote inflammation.
The good news is exercise can help prevent chronic inflammation, regular physical activity leads to a reduction in visceral fat and a subsequent reduction in macrophage infiltration into adipose tissue. During exercise our adipose and muscle tissue release big bursts of stored cytokines (a protein molecule) into our blood stream. This process appears to be responsible for subsequent elevations of circulating anti inflammatory cytokines. Exercise has also shown to modulate local and systematic inflammatory processes via a number of various other processes. However in the short term as exercise produces acute (not chronic) inflammation it is important to rest and recover between workouts and to avoid strenuous "overtraining".