With much news related to the coronavirus and the flu, we may be feeling a little uneasy about what may happen if we don’t get this under control. This is a serious issue and must be taken seriously. This month’s article is focused on how exercise, along with other wellness practices, can help you avoid contracting various illnesses that are currently running ramped.
First, we must recognize that our body is comprised of two systems to help protect us from disease. First system our body has is called the innate immune system. This system is first line of defense which consists of our skin, mucus membranes of our lungs, GI tract, and genitourinary tracts. Second system is called the acquired immune system. As the name mentions, you acquire immunity through exposure. Example, when you get a vaccine, your body has an opportunity to develop specialized cells to fend off the infection through the acquired system.
Knowing this means a few things, be mindful of washing your hands, covering your mouth, and eating healthier food. Washing hands and covering your mouth aids in protecting your skin and mucus membranes from encountering an infection. Eating healthier helps your GI tract hold healthier cells to fend off infection. Staying up to date with the flu shot for example helps your acquired immune system build B and T cells to fight the disease if you were to encounter it. Drinking plenty of water helps your immune system move its army of cells throughout the body more efficiently to fight off infection.
Exercise also helps boost your immunity. The key is keeping your exercise bouts at a moderate intensity. Think of moderate intensity as walking the halls for 20 minutes at a comfortable pace. Other examples of moderate bouts of exercise is shooting pool, playing Wii bowling, yoga, exercise classes, and balance classes. Volleyball also gets the heart rate up, but has frequent rest periods that allows you to recover during play.
Exercise boost immunity by increasing levels of antibodies, natural killer cells, and neutrophils that provide a boost to your immune system. Your muscles also release anti-inflammatory hormones, along with endorphins that make you feel better. This is also going to improve your psychological well-being which promotes less emotional stress and better sleep. All this contributes to a stronger immune system.
Though we may not be able to prevent all cases of sickness, these tips can make you more mindful about taking care of your health.
Article written by Kaleb Roudabush, NSCA-CPT, Wellness Coordinator.