When you work out, you energize the cells in your body that are responsible for fighting off illness-causing bacteria. “Walking, bouncing, and even vibration modalities have all been shown to increase immune function and lymphatic drainage,” says fitness trainer and health coach, Clint Fuqua. “Meanwhile, short intense bouts of exercise have been shown to kill off viruses before they can infect your system.” Be careful not to overdo it, though. Exercising too much without giving your body the rest it needs can actually backfire and hurt your immune system.
Not surprisingly, making sure that you are sufficiently hydrated and getting the proper nutrition from the foods you eat is a key component to keeping your immune system strong. Fuqua recommends eliminating sugar and increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables to increase your body’s production of antibodies. “Quality proteins and essential fats,” he adds, “further aid in the production of immune cells and hormones needed for overall health and immune function.”
Making sure that you get enough sleep every night is another crucial part of keeping your immune system strong. “Our bodies produce increased amounts of proteins called cytokines during sleep,” says Dr. Robert Rosenberg, board-certified sleep medicine physician and author of Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day. “These are necessary for fighting infection and regulating sleep itself. When we are sleep-deprived, the production of some of these cytokines becomes abnormal and can promote inflammation and hinder our ability to fight infections.”
Supplements can help strengthening your immune system by supplying it with the nutrients that it’s lacking. “There are a multitude of herbal, mushroom, and fruit and vegetable extracts that are all shown to be effective for different immune function needs,” says Fuqua. He adds that while supplements exist to fill gaps in nutrition, it should be noted that they are effective primarily as part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.
Stress can seriously inhibit your body’s ability to fend of illness, so finding ways to unwind and relax can be essential to boosting immunity. “Long bouts of stress deplete your immune system and leave you more vulnerable to illness and infection,” says natural health practitioner and author, Dr. Kathy Gruver. To alleviate stress, Dr. Gruver suggests mini meditation, which essentially stabilizes breathing by focusing on the rise and fall of the chest.