Best Ways to Boost Your Immune System
By Cathleen Rodgers
The annual “flu season” may be coming to an end soon, but that doesn’t mean we should forget about the importance of our immune systems. Built to fight off unwelcome bugs and viruses, our immune systems work year-round to protect our bodies. A strong immune system is especially critical when we are exposed to new germs or bacteria that our bodies are unaccustomed to—whether through travel, the latest virus to circulate the globe (looking at you, Coronavirus), or some other reason.
Luckily, there are a number of things we can do to strengthen our immune systems. Consistency is key, of course, but forming healthy habits will naturally build your immunity! Here are some of the best things you can do:
- Pilates! – That’s right—a boost in immune function is one of the many benefits of Pilates! The exercises themselves were created with this in mind. Pilates enhances both the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems in the body; in other words, better blood flow and oxygen circulation within the body, in combination with good lymph activity, makes for a much stronger immune system overall. In fact, did you know that Joseph Pilates’ movement system saved lives during WWI? During his internment at the Isle of Man, influenza swept over Great Britain—and the amazing thing is, not one of Joe’s “trainees” at the camp died of the virus. It seems that consistent Pilates practice will yield a much stronger immune system after all, so try to attend your sessions regularly!
- Sleep – Sleep is essential for many reasons; and, maintaining a healthy immune system is one of them. The amount each individual needs is varied (depending on factors such as age, general health, etc.), but generally speaking, an average of 8 hours per night is considered ideal for adults.
- Nourish your body – Increase your consumption of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats while doing your best to limit sugars, alcohol, and artificial ingredients. Whole foods, and those with few ingredients, are far more nourishing for your body than highly-processed food products with a lengthy list of ingredients. Watch out for those sneaky sugary drinks and alcohol, which can suppress the immune system. Stick to the good stuff and drink lots of water, and your immune system will thank you!
- Keep stress levels in check – Higher stress levels mean higher levels of chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline present in the body, both of which suppress the immune system. Make sure you are taking enough time for yourself to handle the daily stressors of life; the mind and body are more able to cope with stress when they aren’t completely burned out.
- Daily dose of fresh air / sunshine – Whether it’s a couple minutes or a couple hours, time outside for fresh air and sunshine works wonders for the body. Sunshine gives us Vitamin D, and fresh air is good, clean oxygen for our bodies! Both of these support good immune function.
- Try essential oils – People are harnessing the healing powers of essential oils more than ever. Many essential oils are meant to be diffused, but there are some that can be ingested as well. Different oils hold different healing properties; a handful of them support the immune system. Lemon essential oil, for instance, is a single oil that can enhance immune function. On Guard is a blend of essential oils that enhances respiratory and immune function while also serving as a surface cleanser. You can read more about the variety of essential oils and their benefits here.
It’s no wonder that Joseph Pilates himself lived by many of these rituals each day. Practicing these habits will ultimately lead to a healthier, happier you with a stronger immune system. Do what you can each day to implement them into your routine, and you will notice a good boost to your immune system. Here’s to good health!