Your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes it fails: A virus or bacteria invades successfully and makes you sick. People are taking extra precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic to stay healthy: washing hands, wearing masks, social distancing and taking steps to boost their immune system naturally.
You don’t need fancy tools or supplements to boost your immune system. Check out these 4 simple steps to help your immunity:
- Get enough sleep
- Increase exercise
- Up your nutrition
- Reduce your stress
Sleep Improves Your Immune System
Sleep plays a key role in maintaining overall health, impacting your brain, heart, hormones and immune system. Adults should aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, while teens need 8–10 hours and younger children and infants up to 14 hours.
- For some, sleep comes more difficult than for others. That’s where your sleep habits, or sleep hygiene, come into play. Maintain a regular bedtime and wake time, even on the weekends
- Keep your room dark, cool and quiet,
- Avoid screens for at least 1-2 hours prior to bedtime
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow
Exercise And Your Immunity
Moderate exercise can give your immune system a boost.
Studies have shown that combined with a balanced diet and plenty of sleep, 30-45 minutes of aerobic exercise 4-5 times a week can decrease your risk of getting a cold virus by 20-30%. Regular exercise can boost your immune system and stabilize insulin levels leaving your body feeling strong and working hard to fight off the germs.
The American Heart Association and ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommend that we get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. That comes out to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
Examples of these kinds of exercises are:
- Brisk walking
- Steady bicycling
- Light hiking
Motivated to get started? Find tips for boosting your family’s exercise at home.
Nutrition Is Important
We always hear the phrase “eat your veggies” and may brush it under the rug, but it is important when talking about immunity. Healthy immune systems need good, regular nourishment.
If you suspect your diet is not providing you with all your micronutrient needs - maybe, for instance, you don't like vegetables - taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement may bring other health benefits, beyond any possibly beneficial effects on the immune system.
Some studies indicate that the following supplements may strengthen your body’s general immune response:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
But even a few dietary switches can help. Check out these 5 immune-boosting foods to add to your meal plans.
Take Off The Stress
Relieving stress and anxiety is key to immune health. According to a report by the American Psychological Association, long-term stress weakens your immune system’s response.
Knowing the signs of stress in yourself and loved ones can play a major role in how you relieve the stress and if you get help or not.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has listed behaviors, body actions and emotions that you may notice in yourself during an infectious disease outbreak.
Activities that may help you manage your stress include meditation, exercise, journaling, yoga, and other mindfulness practices. You may also benefit from seeing a licensed counselor or therapist, whether virtually or in person.
Other Ways To Boost Your Immune System
All the above are things that you should think about to help boost your immunity. There are other small steps you can take to protect your immune system.
- Wash your hands
- Keep up with your vaccines
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Don’t smoke
- Stay hydrated
By Ariel Anderson
Social Media Specialist