It seems we’ve all been focused on our health lately, and it’s not surprising given the last 18 months of the pandemic. Besides all the health measures we’ve become used to in our daily lives, one of the best things we can do to stay healthy right now is to be proactive about keeping our immune systems functioning properly. Most people know that exercise is a good way to boost your immune system – but did you know that specific types of exercise can give you an even bigger immune boost? Here are five to consider:
Sometimes the simplest exercise is the most effective – like walking. A 2010 study in the US tracked just over 1000 people during the flu season, and found that those who walked for around 45 minutes per day had 43% less sick days than those who didn’t. Because it’s such a simple form of exercise, you can fit in a daily walking session almost anywhere and anytime, even if it’s walking to the shops to buy groceries or fetching your children from school. Improving your health with small daily habits like this one can have a positive effect on your medical aid costs too (such as with Fedhealth), reducing visits to the doctor so your wallet benefits as much as your body and mind do.
You may think rebounding is just a fancy word for trampolining – but it actually involves specific types of exercises done on a mini trampoline. Not only is rebounding a fun and different type of workout, but it’s also excellent for draining your lymphatic system. The fluid in your lymphatic system helps remove toxins from your body, and the specific rebounding movements help stimulate your lymph nodes’ ‘one-way valves’ that make this happen. In this way, you’re kickstarting this natural detoxing process. Rebounding is also low impact, which means it won’t jar your joints, and it can be done indoors – making it the perfect way to get moving during colder winter weather.
3. HIIT workouts
A 2015 study in the UK found that short bursts of high intensity exercise are an effective way to keep your immune system working properly. One way of incorporating this kind of exercise into your routine is through High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which generally combines short bursts of aerobic or resistance training with short rest periods. HIIT has exploded in popularity in recent years, as it’s highly effective in building fitness and strength when you only have a short window to exercise in – and you can do the workouts at home with minimal equipment.
5. Lifting weights
Recent research done at the German Cancer Research Centre has found that skeletal muscle could help replenish T-cells, which are one of the major components of your body’s immune system. Conversely, it’s been found that T-cells that become fatigued can result in a loss of muscle mass. So, pick up those weights and get lifting! You don’t have to be the world heavyweight champion – even training regularly with some light dumbbells can help to increase the amount of muscle mass your body carries.
6. Cold water swimming
Dr Mark Harper, an anaesthetist at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, has been analysing the potential stress benefits of cold water swimming. He found that besides releasing endorphins and improving your body’s circulation, swimming in cold water also helps kickstart your body’s immune system, thanks to the surge of adrenalin you get when your body experiences that first cold shock. Most of us know that adrenalin helps prepare our animal instincts to ‘fight or flight’, but the hormone also gives our immune systems a boost, as it prepares for possible wounding or infection.
If you’ve been thinking that you need to start exercising more, why not try something new that helps protect your health even further? We all need to be proactive about our wellness these days and exercise is an integral part of this. So, get up, get moving, and boost your immunity while you’re at it!