Share This Post Now:

If you’ve recently started groaning and throwing kettlebells around in loud and aggressive gyms (AKA, taken up CrossFit) then you shouldn’t be neglecting rest days, suggests a new study.

The intense workout, which involves doing a variety of timed functional movements like pull-ups, squats, push-ups, weightlifting, gymnastics, running and rowing may temporarily drop your anti-inflammatory immune system proteins.

Study author and CrossFit lover himself, Ramires Tibana, PhD, noted that the fitness phenomenon – which has more than 13,000 affiliates around the world – has many clear benefits. Some of these include a possible increase in muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness, and body composition.

And incorporating different high-intensity workouts every day in a supportive group environment results in more people sticking to a regular exercise regime.

CrossFit has not been without criticism, however, with many critics saying the workout could put stress on the body and increase the risk of injury, which could temporarily impair immunity.

Curious about these claims, Tibana, a professor at the Catholic University of Brasilia in Brazil, decided to run an experiment on a group of nine male CrossFit participants, all of whom had been following the program for at least six months. The men did intense CrossFit-style workouts two days in a row – including Olympic lifting, powerlifting, strength-training moves, and aerobic drills – aiming to finish them as quickly as possible without compromising their technique.

During and after each workout, Tibana and his colleagues measured the participants’ muscle power, as well as levels of inflammatory cytokines and metabolic markers in their blood.

The good news? Two days of intense exercise didn’t compromise the CrossFitters’ muscular strength. The bad? After the second day, participants had reduced levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines, (the proteins produced by white blood cells to fight off threats to the body).

While this outcome is a little concerning, it’s important to remember that this was just one small study that only included male CrossFitters and that the results do not directly point to an increase in vulnerability to illness.

Tibana insists that CrossFit is safe but that the study does show the same exercise schedule may not work for everyone. Beginners, especially, may need more rest days than people who are fitter and more experienced.

“For non-athlete subjects who want to improve their health and quality of life through CrossFit training, we recommend that they decrease their training volume after two consecutive days of high intensity training to prevent possible immunosuppression,” he says.

This is particularly important for people recovering from an illness or who already have compromised immune systems, or during times of the year when viral diseases are prevalent. (Healthy, well-trained athletes, Tibana adds, can likely tolerate a higher workout volume without adverse effects.)

If you’re new to CrossFit or want to give it a try, Tibana recommends finding a facility with trained professionals that encourages gradual progression. He also suggests taking rest days after exhaustive workout sessions, and making time for alternative recovery techniques such as massage, and gentle, restorative exercise.

Still, there’s no hard and fast rule as to how often you should sit out a workout, he says, it depends on a lot of factors, including how hard you push yourself every day. “The main concern is to control training volume and intensity,” he says. If health and safety is your primary goal, he adds, aim for a combination of high- and low-intensity sessions.



If all your CrossFitting knocked your immune system straight into the icy arms of the common cold, consider Releaf Cough and Cold Effervescent, a unique, delightfully citrus-flavoured combination that includes Vitamin C and MSM which may help relieve hay fever and cold symptoms.


Releaf Pharma believes all treatment should begin with your doctor’s opinion.

The views expressed in this editorial content are gathered from outside sources which can be cross-referenced here: