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CrossFit News for Health: Yoga stretching and mobility training protect against infection.

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CrossFit News.  CrossFit  and Yoga seem like polar opposites. CrossFit is hard driving. Speed and raw strength matter. Yoga can also be very challenging, but yoga evokes control, grace and peace. While not ideal, CrossFit participants can often be seen sacrificing grace for reps. What can yoga teach us as CrossFit athletes? Control, grace and inner peace may also be important for CrossFit performance and practice.

CrossFit News: CrossFit Masters Athlete works on mobility and maybe protects himself from colds, fungi and bacteria.

CrossFit News: CrossFit Masters Athlete works on mobility and maybe protects himself from colds, fungi and bacteria.

Why research on Yoga and the immune system is CrossFit News

First a little background:  Humans produce their own anti-bacterial coatings.  A peptide called Beta-Defensin-2 was first discovered in infected skin.  Since then it has been found to be produced in other cell types too.  Examples include cells lining the nose, mouth and airways.  Beta Defensin 2 protects against infection by certain types of germs.  The germ types are called “gram negative.”  Beta Defensin doesn’t seem to protect against Staph infections though.  Fortunately there are other forms Defensins that protect against a range of viruses, fungi and bacteria.  You should still wash your hands after working out at your CrossFit box or anywhere else where you are sharing workout equipment.  Be a friend and wash your hands before you workout too.

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Researchers wanted to know if Yoga would increase Beta-Defensin in people who were not physically active.  The hope was that gentle stretching and movement would boost immune function in people who could not do vigorous exercise.    The study participants were all older adults (ages ~60 to 80).   The research team is also hoping to find out if stretching and mobility training (as Yoga) would reduce lung infections.

What was done?

Researchers had participants do yoga for 90 minutes.  Subjects didn’t do any of the yoga breathing stuff.  Spit samples were collected before and after.  The samples were tested for Beta Defensin-2.  Results: a single 90 minute yoga session resulted in increased saliva levels of Beta Defensin 2.

CrossFit News take away.

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Yoga might be a good thing to add to your fitness life.  While the study didn’t look at CrossFit Mobility training its reasonable to expect similar benefits.  Some have a hard time doing stretching and mobility.  Maybe its time to give stretching, mobility and yoga its due.

Eda N, Shimizu K, Suzuki S, Tanabe Y, Lee E, & Akama T (2013). Effects of yoga exercise on salivary beta-defensin 2. European journal of applied physiology, 113 (10), 2621-7 PMID: 23925803

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