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How do I boost my immune system to stay strong and resilient in the face of illness?

Washing your hands, eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep is necessary but not sufficient to avoid coronavirus. We should also be exercising to strengthen and maintain a healthy immune system, according to experts.

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Recently we’ve seen a lot in the news about the Coronavirus (specifically, COVID-19) causing flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and leading to more severe cases of respiratory illness or even death. As the concerns rise, consumer prevention like washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds, coughing into your elbows, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, mouth, and staying away from crowds becomes more important. But we should also consider our best defense – keeping our immune system in its best shape. 

According to this article, our immune system keeps a record of every germ (microbe) it has ever defeated so it can recognize and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters your body. The author, Dr. Areeba Hussain, a medical microbiologist, goes on to explain that as a virus infects a person, it invades a cell and replicates itself. A special cell in the immune system, known as a T-cell, circulates throughout your body looking for infected cells. This helps to reduce the chances of any virus surviving. She summarizes that, this is what a healthy immune system attempts to do – fight off anything that’s foreign.

But how do we strengthen our immune system so we stay healthy? Several sources including WebMD and Harvard Health, say that exercise, diet, plenty of good sleep and many other activities help promote good immunity.

Exercise Regularly & Maintain A Healthy Weight

Madeline R. Vann writes in Everyday Health, that as we age, our immune system is reduced and less responsive in comparison to a younger individual when sick. Therefore regular exercise is one of the pillars for healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against diseases. This contribution to good health will also help to improve your immune system and circulation, therefore allowing the proper cells to move through your body to do its job efficiently. 

Maintaining a healthy weight is also important. Medical professionals report that excess body fat, particularly around the abdominal area triggers the production of “pro-inflammatory ” immune cells which circulate in the blood to promote inflammation in our bodies. They mention that this contributes to chronic inflammation and has been linked to coronary artery disease and other health problems. 

For these reasons, the US Center for Disease Control says that making your workout a routine – even 30 minutes a day – can help you boost energy, mood, sleep, enhance muscle tone, strengthen your immune system and much more. If you’re strapped on time or want to avoid the crowds, home workouts make a lot of sense. Setting up a portable gym is great for workouts at home or on the road. 

If you’re not sure about working out at the gym or fitness studios during this time, then consider working out from home and never miss a workout session. There are lots of great mobile fitness apps out there so, find one that fits your style and budget, and never miss a workout.

Get Adequate Sleep and Rest

The Sleep Foundation published an article on the importance of good, quality sleep and how it can contribute to many aspects of physical and mental well-being. This study (and many others) shows that high quality sleep contributes to the functioning of a healthy immune system and helps the effectiveness of the T-cells released into your system.

Eat Immunity-boosting Fruits and Vegetables 

In an article from Prevention Magazine, the authors, who are registered dietitians, say that one of the best ways to stay healthy is to choose foods that boost your immune system. Popular health site, WebMD, says that eating healthy and antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, grapes, walnuts, sweet potatoes, dark green veggies, beans and whole grains helps minimize cell damage that can lead to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other illnesses. It’s one of the best ways to boost your immune system and prepare your body for fighting off disease and sickness.

With the flu season at its peak and the threat of COVID-19 around us, hopefully these tips will help you stay healthy or at least help fight off any sickness that comes your way.  

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