Endurance Running and the Immune System

July 9, 2020

Endurance Running and the Immune system

A healthy Immune system is vital for everyone at all times. This year during the COVID-19 pandemic the immune system is something talked about amongst everyone. As runners we have a vested interest in being in peak health so we can run and race all year round and particularly in these times we are all really keen to doing everything we can to protect against possible infections.

We focus on:

  1. The impact of endurance running on our immune system
  2. The female factors we need to consider for immune health
  3. How you may support your immune system nutritionally

LISTEN HERE Episode 14: Endurance Running and the Immune System


Endurance Running and the Immune System


An introduction into the importance of a healthy immune system for a runner and for everyday health.


Insights into Professor David Nieman’s research on the impact of long-distance endurance running and potential for suppressed immunity leading to post race and training infections, and why running more than 20 miles a week can increase risks of infections or illnesses.


The 60/60/60 approach to managing your training to reduce risks of suppressed immunity as a runner.


A quick overview of how the immune system functions and what may happen when the immune system is suppressed.


The potential risks to a runner if their immune system is suboptimal – upper respiratory infections and compromised recovery from injury and illness.


Karen’s personal insights into utilising nutrition to recover from injury.


The female factors we need to consider for the immune system and insights into autoimmune conditions.


How to support our immune systems for everyday health, but also as a runner plus a look at some key nutrients to support the immune system e.g. Vitamin D, Polyphenols and Beta Glucans


A spotlight onto research about carbohydrates and the immune system.


Tips on using antioxidants as nutritional supplements.


Supporting nutrition for your immune system with your food plan.


Endurance Running and the Immune System

It’s worth bearing in mind that 80% of all people with Auto Immune (AI) conditions are female.

There are some theories why this is the case. One is that females are genetically predisposed to AI conditions, and another that AI conditions are hormonally driven by oestrogen or down regulated by testosterone.


Endurance Running and the Immune System

  • Moderate and consistent exercise promotes the immune system
  • Marathons and ultra marathons can lower your resistance for 24 to 72 hours afterwards
  • Try the 60/60/60 approach which means run less than 60 miles a week, mostly at low intensity (60% of max VO2corresponds to 75% of max heart rate), and mostly in workouts that are less than 60 minutes at a time to minimise negative impact on the immune system
  • Eat optimally – macronutrients (Protein, Carbohydrate and Fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)
  • Test for Vitamin D
  • Eat foods containing polyphenols beta glucans, zinc, selenium, vitamin C, other antioxidants, omega 3 fats
  • Focus on consuming quick release carbohydrates at timed intervals during training and races

Related Episodes:

Nutrition Basics for ALL Runners

Vitamins and Minerals for Female Runners


The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

Remember we are available to support you if required contact us at hello@ runnershealthhub.com

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