Most of us have gone through life not thinking much about our immune system. It’s there. We’ve always just trusted it’s doing the best it can to protect us from infections and cancer. That sure has changed! Our immune systems are now top of mind, as we do everything we can to stay safe from COVID-19 according to a Counsman California Health Coach.
Although there are many factors regarding your Immune System’s reaction to this virus, one analogy model that might help you understand is that rather than taking a measured approach to defending against the virus, then weaker your immune system is, the greater the tendency for it to ‘freak out’ and aimlessly fire all defensive weapons to fight it – quickly leading to immune system exhaustion and catastrophic failure. Think of the measure taken by the Titanic – if they had just steered hard over to the Port side, and given all the engine’s power to the Starboard propeller Only, they’d have easily steered clear of the iceberg. However, because they panicked – hard over to Port, but Full Reverse of All Propellers, they created a churning mess around the rudder, with no controllable water flow past the rudder, and were left with the out of control inertia of this large vessel steaming straight ahead under it’s own inertia momentum into the catastrophic collision with the iceberg.
Similarly, a compromised or weak immune system (older, preexisting conditions, poor physical fitness, obesity, etc.) freaks out and does everything to exhaustion, instead of a ‘touch on the wheel’, to fight with the measured energy of a marathon, not a sprint. So, your best defense (along with masks and social distancing, of course) is to boost your Immune System from whatever it is now, to the best you can be going forward.
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You do have some control over the health of your immune system. Good nutrition may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of boosting your immunity, but it’s not the only healthy habit that makes a difference. Exercise can be an extremely powerful tool in keeping you safe from illness.
So, while I understand this new normal can serve as an easy excuse to be lazy, don’t stop exercising – it’s more important now than ever. The joke is that the Coronavirus era will make you into either a Chunk, Drunk, or Hunk! The third outcome is your Best Option to set as your goal, by Far!
Let’s talk moderate exercise first – a level of exercise equivalent to a brisk walk. Most of us live in an area where a brisk walk outside is still perfectly safe. Just maintain proper social distancing, keeping at least 6 feet between you and anyone else. Or hop on that treadmill that’s been serving as a clothes hanger for far too long.
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With each walk, your immune system gets a little stronger. Activity of germ-fighting immune system cells increases – these “natural killer cells” are particularly adept at killing off dangerous invaders. With each workout, our immune systems also pump out natural antibodies and anti-inflammatory cytokines to help wipe out attackers. Over time, these temporary increases can permanently pump up our immune system and lower inflammation, so developing a consistent exercise habit is key!
What abut the young, fit athletes that have also succumbed to the virus? Studies have shown that there was always Some underlying issue that played a role – blood type, genetics, poor diet (e.g. junk food, fast food, processed food, acidic foods like carbonated beverages), poor sleep habits, etc.
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How do you get started if you’re not already active? Just move more today than you did yesterday. Baby steps are best. If the activity you’re most used to is sitting, you’re not doing anyone any good by jumping into an intense exercise. Prevent injury by getting your body used to moving. As you get more comfortable, you can slowly ramp it up to the next level. Slowly (but keep doing what’s challenging for whatever level you’re currently at, in order to improve over time)!
For beginners and experienced exercisers, it’s easier than ever to get a good workout at home. No equipment is required. If you like lifting weights, now is a great time to invest in a good set. If you have a stationary bike, elliptical machine, etc., stop using it for a clothes rack, and Get Busy!
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Many fitness experts have taken to online instruction and classes. If this is all new to you or you’ve been out of the game for a while, look for beginner or light workouts – or ones that offer modifications for those just starting out. If you’re ready to take your fitness to the next level, fitness apps and online programs are everywhere these days. Find a few favorite social media fitness gurus. Many create free, daily beginner and advanced workouts.
To round out your immune-boosting healthy habit routine, load up on vegetables and lean protein, a serving or two a fruit a day, get 7-8 hours of sleep at night (keep a regular schedule, just like you did when you worked outside the home), and find ways to decrease the effects of stress (Yoga, Meditation, etc.). Exercise is a great stress-busting tool, along with deep breathing exercises. Your immune system will thank you – Big Time.