Exercising Is Your Immunity-Boosting BFF
Colder temperatures mean more time spent inside and can mean a higher chance of getting sick. If you have kids in school, your household has probably seen its first cold of the season already. No one wants to be taken out of their routine with a sickness – it throws everything off track, you lose energy for working out and quite simply, it feels terrible. Let’s keep your immunity boosted this winter season with your BFF, exercise!
Your Immune System
Your immune system is complex. It’s composed of lymphatic vessels and organs, like your spleen and lymph nodes, white blood cells, and specialized cells in your tissues. The lymphatic vessels drain waste products from the tissues, and then the lymph cells are filtered by specialized cells called macrophages; picture little Pac-Mans engulfing and destroying bacteria. The white blood cells prevent bacterial infection, clean up cellular debris, and destroy foreign tissues like cancer.
Ok, so maybe that’s more than you ever wanted to know about what’s going on in your immune system, but it gives you a tiny glimpse into how hard and efficiently your body works every day to keep you healthy. All these functions are happening subconsciously; you don’t need to think about it or do anything. Your body knows.
So that’s what your body is doing for you, now let’s focus on what you can do for your body.
The Power of Exercise
As you know, the benefits of exercise cover an extensive range from increasing muscle strength, flexibility and range of motion to lowering resting heart rate, blood pressure and reducing your risk of heart disease.
Exercise is also vital for immunity. It improves the flow and circulation of your immune system by:
- Increasing blood flow and the exchange of white blood cells in the tissues
- Clearing bacteria out of your airways, lowering your rate of upper respiratory tract infections
- Reducing inflammation enhances immune system performance
- Increasing transport of oxygen and nutrients to cells
- Increasing movement of carbon dioxide and waste products out of the cells
Ideally, you want to get 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day. Moderate intensity is best with spurts of high intensity if that is part of your fitness goals. You want to avoid a routine that is so intense it overworks your body, causing it to be run down and susceptible to viruses. If you’re continually exhausted and don’t have much energy to work out, or recovery takes longer than it should, you may be overworked.
Mental and Emotional
Exercise has many mental health benefits as well, such as:
- Providing a natural release for pent-up feelings
- Reducing tension and anxiety
- Improving mental outlook at self-esteem
- Relaxing and improving sleep
- Improving your ability to handle stress
All of these results will decrease your overall stress levels and will improve your immune function. Now that’s a win/win!
Have you noticed that when your workouts are on track, things are usually going well in other areas of your health, like you’re sleeping better and eating foods that help you thrive? It all goes hand-in-hand, and it’s a knock-out punch to colds and cases of flu.
If you’re not sleeping as soundly as you’d like, try a few enhancements to your routine:
- Having a consistent bedtime – go to bed and rise at the same time every day, keeping circadian rhythms regulated
- Eating magnesium rich-foods to help you relax and quiet those restless legs, or try a magnesium supplement
- Keeping your bedroom temperature cool, around 18C
- Making your bedroom a place you want to be – add soft lighting, fresh sheets, and your favourite picture on the wall
The recommended average sleep time for adults is 7-8 hours per night.
Another way to improve immunity as part of your exercise routine is to develop a mindfulness practice, such as meditation, yoga, or breathwork. Spend time outdoors; it’s not too late to get in those last bike rides before the snow falls. Exercising outside is so good for your health; the air is so fresh and invigorating.
Do you catch colds easily and have them more than three times per year? If you are continuously dealing with an infection, your immunity might be low. Follow the guidelines in this article and speak with a holistic medical professional, like a naturopath or your doctor to strengthen your immune system.
Strengthening your immunity isn’t done through one simple method or quick boost. It requires consistent effort and routine every day, and it’s about that comprehensive healthy lifestyle. Do what makes you feel good, what makes you thrive and take good care of yourself this cold season.
Have questions about which supplements will boost your immunity this winter? Visit us in store, have a chat with one of our experts, and learn about our favourites! We can also be reached on Facebook and Instagram. Now it’s your turn to tell us, how do you keep your exercise routine going? Be sure to tag us! We are #ReflexNation.