BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM WITH EXERCISE!
Are you worried about getting sick? Do you find yourself succumbing to colds and flu every winter? If you want to strengthen and boost your immune system to help fight off illnesses it might be time to start an exercise regime.
According to the Medlineplus government website, regular exercise can help boost your immune system in a number of ways:
- Physical activity can help clean bacteria and viruses out of your airways and lungs which may reduce your chance of catching colds, flu and other respiratory diseases.
- Exercise (or more specifically the time after exercise) lowers your stress hormones. Since stress is a major contributor towards your susceptibility to illness, this may help reduce your chances of getting ill.
- Exercise helps reduce the systemic inflammation caused by a overeating. Inflammation can prevent your immune system from working on important processes in your body, such as fighting infection.
Various studies have shown that maintaining an energetic lifestyle with a moderate level of activity has multiple benefits including a lower occurrence of illnesses. A moderate exercise program could be:
- Going to the gym 3-4 times per week
- Swimming daily
- Getting at least 10,000 steps each day
- Cycling to and from work
The health benefits from regular exercise are even more important in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus strain that has had such a dramatic effect on the whole planet. According to Nature online magazine (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00236-9) “The virus has caused severe illness and death, particularly in those with pre-existing diabetes and heart disease.” We also now know that being overweight vastly increases your susceptibility to COVID and many other diseases.
Here are a few other important things that you can try and do along with exercise to help your immune system stay fighting fit:
- Don’t smoke – smoking suppresses your lungs’ natural cleaning system (and kills you slowly in many other ways!)
- Try to maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, especially if you are pre-diabetic or in an insulin-resistant state, you should try to lose weight by eating healthily and exercising.
- Make sure your Vitamin D levels are optimal - most people don't get enough sunlight so if you aren't able to spend time in the sunshine daily you need to add a supplement into your daily routine.
- Avoid highly polluted areas for the same reason that you shouldn’t smoke – studies have found that outdoor air pollution is linked to decreased lung function.
- Make sure you get adequate sleep (no more coffee after lunchtime and no internet in bed!)
- Try to minimise stress and keep your cortisol levels where they should be.
- Avoid foods that you're sensitive to - you don't want to divert your immune system to deal with allergies or diarrhea.
- If you live in a hot climate like Singapore or Hong Kong make sure your aircon is not set too cold – this can dry out your sinuses and airways making you more susceptible to infection.
- Conversely, if it's cold and dry use a humidifier, especially near your bed when you sleep.
- Eat a diet high in vegetables and fruit – ensuring you are well nourished can help prevent vitamin or mineral deficiencies that might hinder your immune cell function.
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