Rev Up Your Virus Immunity

I’m taking a page from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and refusing to type the name of the thing you all know I’m referring to in the title of this post. This post is about perspective on viruses in general, rather than panic over any specific virus. The fact of the matter is, even if a given year doesn’t have a new virus strain that turns into a pandemic, influenza and the common cold are annual winter pandemics. So, let’s take all the buzz (aka lemons) about this current virus and make some lemonade, shall we?

What’s causing a panic in some circles right now are the unknowns. And the unknowns create an unpredictability which feeds the notion that individuals don’t have any control over it. But, that’s not entirely true. Every person can adopt specific habits that greatly reduce the risk of getting this virus, or any other virus, year in and year out.

One positive that’s come of this is the constant reminders, from all levels of government, regarding proper hygiene, safe etiquette for greeting others in public and ways to protect those in close proximity to our sneezes and coughs. When immunizations are available, get them. They may not be 100% effective but what’s true 100% of the time is, if you don’t get immunized, your risk reduction is zero. Adopt these habits now and continue them even after this virus is long gone.

But, there are other proven ways to boost your immunity and these behaviors are a boost to your overall fitness and health, as well.

Consume immunity-boosting foods. Fruits and vegetables have vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in abundance that are known to boost immunity, helping your body fight off infections and other inflammatory agents. The color of a produce item reflects a specific set of nutrients. If you are careful to consume a wide variety of produce, in a wide variety of colors, throughout each day, you’re likely to cover all the vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient bases. (Note that numerous studies have shown that taking vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in supplement form doesn’t provide the same benefits of consuming those same nutrients in foods.)

Exercise in any of its forms. Whether you run sprints, walk your dog, do bodybuilding super sets, or take a Pilates or yoga class, all forms of exercise boost your immunity in a number of ways. Exercise promotes healthy circulation, cell regeneration and nutrient metabolism, all of which ensure your body is working like the well-oiled machine it needs to be to fight off invaders. What’s more, the endorphin release from exercising reduces stress and benefits immunity greatly. Take your exercise outdoors and the endorphin release is even greater. Plus, you’ll get immunity-friendly vitamin D from the sun.

Sleep seven to eight hours each night. You can eat nothing but fruit and veggies before and after a daily workout and your immunity won’t be all that it can be without enough sleep. You can learn more about healthy sleep habits here.

Skip the panic and work on the things you can control. Follow the advice on avoiding viruses in public places and adopt these three immunity-boosting habits and be fit and happier, year after year, pandemic or no pandemic.

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