How to give your immunity the much-needed boost
Daily exercise is an essential requisite for a healthy lifestyle as it strengthens your body and calms your mind. Exercising improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, controls body weight and protects against a variety of infections and diseases. Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to good health and can boost your immune system. It improves blood circulation as it slows down the release of stress hormones. With only 20 minutes of exercising, one feels more confident and tend to exhibit positive thoughts. However, anything done in excess can never yield positive results. Heavy lifting and long-term exercises such as marathon running, could actually harm you. If you are looking to increase your immunity, begin with moderate physical activity on most days of the week and continue doing light exercises even on days when you are not feeling a hundred percent. Here are some pointers that’ll help you plan your routine and bolster your immunity.
Schedule an appointment with your trainer/physiotherapist/fitness consultant to know more about your body and what range of activities you can perform freely. After understanding what exercises are best for you, start practising on a regular basis so that you can communicate better with your coach and tell them about your current form.
Aim for daily physical activity
If you are healthy, you should try getting at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. In general, 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week is enough to boost your immunity. Keeping an exercise journal or using a smartphone app can help you track your workout time and progress. Incorporate moderate activities such as brisk walking, biking, and swimming. Assess your current workout plan. If you are already exercising or getting physical activity every day, you don’t need to add any extra activity or strain.
Divide your workout routine
Busy schedules can make it difficult to get in a 30-minute routine at one go. You may also be new to exercise and might not be able to perform at length. In order to avoid the time factor, divide your routine in sets of two or three and take out 10-15 minutes twice in the day. If you are a beginner, try three 10 minute activities until you can increase it up to one 30-minute session. You can also vary each activity to work different parts of your body. For example, you could do a 10-minute jog in the morning, a 10 minute brisk walk at lunch, and then go for a 10-minute jog/walk in the evening. Consider trying a vigorous 10-minute session if you would like to add some intensity to your workout.
Perform strength-training twice a week
Another way to boost your immunity is to incorporate strength training into your routine. Lifting weights and Pilates are examples of resistance training that can help you in getting the desired results. If you are new to weightlifting, meet a certified trainer and seek their guidance to improve your form. Consider the following types of strength or resistance training: weight machines, exercises with your body weight, resistance bands, Pilates, rock climbing and swimming with resistance paddles. These will help in strengthening specific target areas of your body.
Pay attention to your body
If you decide to exercise when you’re not well or even in general, it’s important to let your body guide you. Take breaks if you need to or stop your workout if you feel worse. Remember to do a light warm-up before your session. This can help you understand if you can continue or not. Watch for symptoms such as rapid heart rate, difficulty in breathing, chest pain, wheezing, feeling faint, or worsening body aches. If you have any of these, immediately stop exercising and seek medical attention.
Allow rest days
Rest is a key component to any exercise regime as well as your immunity. No matter if you are sick or not, give your body a chance to recover. Give yourself at least one full day of rest and let your muscles heal. If you are sick, listen to your body. You may need a few days of rest and easy recovery walks to get better.
Keeping germs away is very important. Maintain proper hygiene by washing or sanitising your hands frequently. Disinfect surfaces and wear masks when outdoors.
CHANGE FOR THE BETTER
Consume a healthy diet
The key to a healthy weight is a good diet. Eat a nutrition-rich diet in conjunction with regular exercise to gain maximum benefits. Balance your diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, lean meats and beans. Remember to hydrate adequately. Drink at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water every day.
Limit alcohol consumption
If you drink alcoholic beverages, make sure you drink in moderation. It can undermine your attempts to boost your immunity as it may increase your blood pressure or cholesterol. Follow the recommended guidelines for daily alcohol consumption. Men can have two or fewer drinks per day and women should drink no more than one.
Use caffeine in moderation
Consuming caffeinated beverages may help you to feel more alert and energised but it is important to avoid consuming too much caffeine. Keep your daily intake of caffeine under 200mg. Caffeine in small doses may boost immunity but excess intake is harmful.
Stress can have a significant impact on your body’s ability to prevent and fight illness. Actively reducing stress or controlling situations that cause it can help you boost your immunity. Make a list of things that cause stress. Figure out what you can do to actively reduce it or find a way to control stress-inducing elements.
Article by: Pooja Laungani
Pooja is an ACSM and Reebok Certified Fitness and Dance Instructor. She’s trained in Zumba, TRX, Bokwa, Dance Aerobics, Aero Kickboxing and several forms of Dance. She’s also a Sports Nutritionist (HKU) and recently achieved the Ceti Certification (Cancer Exercise Trainer), making her the First Cancer Specialist Exercise Trainer in Hong Kong.