Dec 7, 2020
Tips to Boost Your Immune System During Winter Months

Ask any health expert and they’ll tell you the first line of defense in avoiding illnesses is a balanced immune system.

An article published in the Journal of British Sports Medicine shared some of those tips to boost your immune system and protect yourself against germs and viruses during the cold and flu season — particularly with COVID-19 still looming large.

Photo: Susan von Struensee / Creative Commons

First and foremost is the importance of regular exercise, which helps with blood circulation and allows blood cells to work efficiently. The inclusion of aerobic exercise is also important, the article said, as it can reduce days with upper respiratory tract infections.

Additionally, the article stresses the importance of rest and sleep, with a recommended seven-plus hours of sleep for adults. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that sleep and the circadian rhythm are strong regulators of immunological processes.

Other recommendations include the following:

  • Reduce stress. Even if you don’t notice it, our mental health can directly affect our physical health. One way to reduce the stress in your life is by meditating.
  • A good diet. Try avoiding sugary breakfasts. Instead, include more fruits in your meals, reduce red meats, and add more vegetables. Also, drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

“Studies in humans and experimental animals indicate that a combination of dietary restriction and physical exercise can retard age-associated reductions in immunological reactivity, and enhancement of some immune factors was also induced by exercise in patients with cerebrovascular disease,” the article stated.

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While the need for an active immune system is apparent if an athlete expects to reach peak performances, there is a trade-off with the regular intense exertion. The article states it can lead to a partially reduced immune capacity and consequently potential infection or disease.

“In general, the literature suggests that acute exercise—for example, marathon and ultramarathon running—results in an associated reduction in aspects of immune competence so that such athletes may be at increased risk of illness and need to pay particular attention to their nutritional state, hygiene, and exposure to infections,” the article stated.

To read the full article from the Journal of British Sports Medicine about boosting your immune system in a healthy way, click here

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