6 Ways to Support Your Immune System
Updated: Nov 4, 2021
The date is Monday 6th April and as I write this at the beginning of the third week of quarantine in the United Kingdom the nation is struggling to cope with the COVID-19. This is a challenging period for everyone. We are all facing issues new to us and with long-lasting effects. In a time like this, it is easy to feel like there is nothing we can do. This is not the case.
Aside from following government guidelines regarding social distancing and quarantine, the most important thing we can do is to STAY HEALTHY. I cannot stress this enough. In the decade or more that I have been a personal trainer, this point has never held more importance than it does now.
A healthy body is a strong and resilient body, and whilst there are no ways to "boost" your immune system beyond its natural capacities, being fit and healthy allows all your bodies systems to work optimally. It is certainly possible to "boost your immune system" if your immune system isn't working properly because of your dietary and lifestyle choices!
So, here are 6 tips to help keep you healthy and resilient during this period:
Exercise affects our health and immune system in a multitude of ways. In terms of overall health, exercise helps to:
reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes
reduce the risk of certain types of cancer
reduce the risk of osteoarthritis
reduce the rate of cognitive decline
maintain a healthy body weight
This last point is especially important as "coronaviruses can cause more severe symptoms and complications in people with obesity-related conditions" (1).
In terms of the immune systems and upper-respiratory infections specifically, exercise supports the immune system by (2) (3):
increasing the flow of antibodies and white blood cells around the body
reducing stress levels
activating innate antiviral immunity
raising core temperature
The exercise guidelines in this situation are simple. Any form of exercise which raises your heart rate, core temperature and breathing rate is recommended. If it is sunny, get outside and work out (whilst government recommendations to do so remain in place). Go for a jog or cycle, try hill sprints, do a workout in your garden or park. If you require a programme or online coaching see how we could help.
A word of warning - Do not overdo it. Overtraining can actually suppress the immune system due to the increase of, and prolonged exposure to, stress (4).
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