Lifestyle Interventions to Improve Immunesenescence

David B. Bartlett and Kim M. Huffman


Regular participation in exercise and physical activity is associated with many health benefits including improvements in metabolic and cardiorespiratory function. However, as we get older the time and intensity at which we exercise is severely reduced. Physical inactivity now accounts for a considerable proportion of age-related disease and mortality. These diseases are associated with an increased systemic inflammatory milieu and immunesenescence. Regular exercise and physical activity has been suggested to exert anti-inflammatory and anti- immunesenescence effects, potentially delaying the health declines with ageing. No immune cells are impervious to the effects of ageing and exercise appears to modify many immunological functions. Regular exercise has been shown to improve neutrophil microbicidal functions which reduce the risk of infectious disease. Exercise participation is also associated with increased immune cell telomere length, and may be related to improved vaccine responses. The anti-inflammatory effect of regular exercise and negative energy balance is evident by reduced inflammatory immune cell signatures and lower inflammatory cytokine concentrations. In this chapter we will discuss the role of physical activity and energy balance in modifying the immune system. Specifically we discuss what role each plays on limiting the incidence of immunesenescence in older adults.


Innate immunity • Adaptive immunity • Immunesenescence • Inflammation • Exercise • Physical activity • Metabolism

D.B. Bartlett, Ph.D. (*)

Duke Molecular Physiology Unit, Duke School of Medicine, Duke University,

Durham, NC, USA

Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27701, USA e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

K. M. Huffman , M.A., Ph.D.

Duke Molecular Physiology Unit, Duke School of Medicine, Duke University,

Durham , NC , USA

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017 V. Bueno et al. (eds.), The Ageing Immune System and Health, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-43365-3_10

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