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Systemic inflammation occurs when the immune system is constantly defending the body. Classic signs of inflammation include auto-immune disorders, fatigue, fever, and joint and muscle pain. Inflammation is also known for causing less common symptoms like balance issues, insulin resistance, muscle weakness, eye problems and skin issues.

Exercise to Reduce Systematic Inflammation

In this article we explore some of the main causes of systematic inflammation in the body and how we can manage and eliminate this issue.


One of the first lifestyle factors to address when it comes to chronic inflammation is cigarette smoking. The two inflammatory contributors within cigarettes are tobacco and nicotine. Current research shows that nicotine activates certain white blood cells, called neutrophils, which in turn release molecules that lead to increased inflammation. Tobacco use is commonly regarded as very unhealthy, moreover, tobacco use is known to contribute to systemic inflammation in the body.


Systemic inflammation is also caused by over consumption of alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption is known to stimulate immune responses that lead to excess cytokine (type of immune cell that destroys foreign cells) production and systemic inflammation. A common measure of systemic inflammation is C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in the body. Patients with high CRP levels generally have high inflammation levels. Current evidence now indicates that heavy smoking and alcohol consumption leads to higher CRP levels.

smoking and alcohol cause inflammation


Sleep is another important factor that regulates our inflammation levels. Current evidence indicates that regular sleep disturbances contribute to excessive inflammation. Also, sleeping for excessively long durations contributes to systemic inflammation.

good sleep to avoid inflammation


Stress is another factor that contributes to inflammation. Stress causes elevated cortisol hormone levels, and the current evidence indicates that chronically stressed individuals are shown to suffer from higher levels of inflammation.

stress causes chronic inflammation


When it comes to diet, no single food product is going to reduce inflammation on its own. The currently known foods that help reduce inflammation include:

  • Antioxidants like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in specific fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring.

  • Specific vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale and mushrooms.

  • Regular fibre intake like oats, carrots, and wholegrains.

  • Turmeric - lots of attention has been given to the spice turmeric and its anti-inflammatory role. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a compound proven to help reduce systematic inflammation.

eat healthy foods to reduce inflammation

There are foods that can cause inflammation and should be limited in one’s diet, these include:

  • Sugar - excessive sugar intake includes sugar from fruits and high fructose corn syrups.

  • Trans-fats found in fast foods, some vegetable oils and bakery foods like cookies and muffins.

  • Processed meats like sausage, bacon, ham, beef jerky, salami, and canned meats.

For most people it is very beneficial to consult with a dietician to see if your diet is deficient in any macro-nutrients, micro-nutrients, or specific food groups.


Current evidence shows that regular exercise reduces fat mass and adipose tissue, which is known to contribute to systemic inflammation. Independent of fat mass losses, exercise also increases muscle production of Interlukin-6, which is known to reduce TNF-alpha production. TNF-alpha is a potent inflammatory immune system cell, which contributes to systemic inflammation. Interlukin-6 also helps produce anti-inflammatory immune cells.

how to reduce inflammation with exercise

If you have issues with inflammation in your body we recommend making an appointment with our team of allied health professionals. Our dietitian can assist with helping you choose the correct foods, while an exercise physiologist can customise an exercise plan that is suited to your specific needs. Call our friendly staff on 5456 1599 and make an appointment today!

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