5 Ways to Keep Your Immune System Ready!
Keeping your immune system strong is very important, especially if you work out intensely on a regular basis. This doesn't mean just drinking a cup of Emergen-c every few days or even everyday. There are a lot of lifestyle changes and steps you can take to boost your body's immune system and stay healthy.
What Is The Immune System?
The immune system is one of the human body's main defense systems. Along with the lymphatic system, the immune system defends against pathogens (like viruses) that can harm the body and cause illness or even death. There are two major subsystems of the immune system: the innate and adaptive systems.
The innate system includes basic barriers that prevent pathogens from crossing them and doing damage in the body. Barriers like skin, hair, mucous membranes, the linings in the mouth and nostrils, even the wax in our ears. These barriers are the body's first line of defense, so to speak, against pathogens. We're born with these innate immune system mechanisms, hence the name "innate."
The adaptive immune system or adaptive immune system, is created and improved with the different viruses and pathogens we come into contact with. Vaccinations, for example, fall under this system, where you're given a shot that will protect you from a certain disease. You are not born with any type of adaptive immunity, it must be aquired. This is the system that we will mainly be discussing in this article. Certain lifestyle habits and daily routines can improve your adaptive immune system.
How Does Exercise Affect The Immune System?
High levels of stress will do no good for the immune system, and that stress can come from any number of sources—work, relationships, finances, severe heat or cold, and, yes, exercise.
Training is a double-edged sword. Moderate intensity exercise improves the adaptive immune system by way of how it responds to and fights pathogens. Intense exercise can actually compromise the immune system for a short period of time. The immune system is only compromised for a few hours after intense training, (This is why I wouldn't recommend going to a mall or the airport right after training.) However, if you take measures to properly recover from your intense training, your immune system will bounce back and be even stronger.
When you don't give your body enough time and the proper nutrients to recover, your immune system remains in a compromised state and you find yourself sick all the time, running low on energy, and losing strength and muscle mass.
5 Steps To Support Your Immune System
The hour or so you spend in the gym training intensely will deliver a blow to your immune system. Here's what to do the other 23 hours to build your adaptive immunity back up.
1. Wash Your Hands Frequently
Wash your hands as often as possible. Washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds is the simplest, most effective thing you can do to avoid illness.
2. Follow The 30/60 Rule
Add moderate-intensity exercise to your daily routine with the 30/60 rule: For every 30 minutes you spend sitting, stand up and do at least 60 seconds of physical activity. This can be anything you want: walking, jogging, jumping jacks, calisthenics, stretching, etc.
3. Get Plenty Of Sleep
Getting a full night of quality rest is critical for enabling a full recovery when consistently performing intense workouts. Sleep is also absolutely critical for an optimally functioning immune system. When people are sleep deprived, their immune systems take a hit. The general recommendation for the amount of sleep you should get is 8 hours a night. Every person is different, some people need more and some less, but 7-9 hours is a good place to start.
4. Practice Meditation And Mindfulness
Meditation is known for helping reduce stress, which is exactly why it's beneficial for the immune system. Chronic stress will compromise immunity in a big way.
Try to find time every day for some form of mindfulness practice. That can be yoga, traditional meditation, or just carving out a few minutes during your day for quiet time.
5. Utilize Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is going an extended period of time with no food (no calories) basically just water and certain zero-calorie beverages like coffee and tea.
Research has shown that intermittent fasting can benefit health in a number of ways, including immunity. If you want to give your immune system a boost, consider incorporating IF.