We hear it a lot "Exercise can help boost your immune system!" But how exactly does that work and what kind of exercise is best? Are there other strategies we could also implement to help ward off potential bugs and viruses?
Yes there is!!
Here are four main strategies we've identified that will help boost your immune system
Here are some key theories on how exercise and movement can help boost your immune system:
Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways, reducing your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.
Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells (WBC). WBCs are part of the body's immune system that fights disease. During exercise these antibodies or WBCs circulate more rapidly, so they could detect and deter illnesses earlier than they might have before.
The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise can prevent bacteria from growing. Similar to what happens when you get a fever, the rise in temperature actually helps your body fight the infection.
Studies have shown that people who follow a moderately energetic lifestyle, benefit most from starting (and sticking to) an exercise program. A moderate program can consist of bicycling with your children a few times a week or taking daily 20 to 30 minute walks.
Stress can suppress our immune system. When under stress, the body increases the production of cortisol. This is a hormone that helps the body deal with stressful situations. It also limits bodily functions that aren’t essential in a fight-or-flight situation. Short-term stress doesn’t harm the body, but chronic or long term stress, on the other hand, lowers your immune system response, making you susceptible to viruses and illnesses.
Activities that will reduce stress levels are going to be different for everyone. Some
activities you can try include:
Taking a break from social media
Going for a walk in on a forest trail
Staying social with a trusted friend or family member
If your levels of stress or anxiety become unmanageable and start to interfere with your day-to-day activities, at that point it may be time to take the next step and seek out a professional who can help.
Citrus fruits: Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections. Reliable citrus fruits include grape fruit, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, clementines etc. Your body doesn't produce or store vitamin C, so you need a daily dose to maintain your health.
Red Bell Peppers: Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus. They’re also a rich source of beta carotene. Beta carotene helps keep your eyes and skin healthy while vitamin C is vital for boosting your immune system.
Broccoli: This vegetable is supercharged with vitamins and minerals and packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fibre. Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table.The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all.
Spinach: Spinach made our list not just because it's rich in vitamin C but also because it is packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase our immune systems infection-fighting ability. Similar to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.
Yogurt: Look for yogurts that have "live and active cultures" printed on the label, like Greek yogurt. These cultures may stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases. Try to get plain yogurts rather than the kinds that are flavoured and loaded with sugar. You can sweeten plain yogurt yourself with healthy fruits and a drizzle of honey instead.
Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, so try to select brands fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost our body’s natural defences against diseases.
Kiwis: Naturally full of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwi’s other nutrients keep the rest of your body functioning properly.
As stated earlier Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and can boost our bodies natural defences. Bringing our exercise outside allows our body to breath in fresh air and being around nature has been shown to be a great mood booster which in turn helps reduce emotional and physical stress.
During times like this it is most important to be mindful of the activities we choose to partake in. With our regular schedules being disrupted or all together canceled we encourage everyone to still choose healthy and productive lifestyles until this event has passed.
Everyone within reactive wellness is wishing you and your families well. Please reach out if you need help with ideas for at home exercises/activities!
Allison St. Pierre
Wellness Coordinator, Manual Osteopath,