We call it the “new normal,” this uneasy reality of shuttered businesses and shelter-in-place orders. But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its toll around the country and the world, we adapt and we prepare. If boosting your immune system is part of your coping strategy, exercise should be on your list. It’s one of three keys to a strong immune system, which has never been more important.
The body’s immune system is a complex network of cells and molecules all sharing one job – fending off disease and infection. And exercise has a direct impact on how well a given immune system does its job. Regular exercise has been shown to improve immune response to:
- Chronic low-grade inflammation
- cardiovascular disease
- Cognitive impairment
That’s because exercise directly stimulates the production of both antibodies and T-cells, accelerating their circulation, while also helping the body expel toxins. Regular exercise also lowers stress hormones (which slow the ability of T-cells to do their job), strengthening the immune system.
Working up a good sweat is also good for the immune system. When your body temperature increases during your workout, you can actually help your body kill pathogens.
This is all good news in terms of COVID-19. Exercise is beneficial for us all, but older adults who are susceptible to infection and anyone considered a vulnerable population during this outbreak should make a point of regular fitness.
Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy immune system is linked to the gut, so be choosy about nutrition. A healthy micobiome depends on nutritious, whole foods, so do your best to limit things like processed meats, fried foods, fatty meats, and anything that robs you of key vitamins and nutrients.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is critical to recovery. It’s when your mind and your body reboot – immune system included. Without adequate sleep, production of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, increases. It keeps you awake and stresses the immune system. Shoot for seven to nine hours every night.
In addition to exercise, nutrition and sleep, remember the basics. Practice good hygiene, exercise your mind, make a point of staying connected with the important people in your life, and get outside every day.