by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
This year’s flu season is proving relentless. Boost your immune system with exercise. Here is how it works …
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are currently reporting widespread flu. As of mid-December, flu already claimed the lives of at least 106 individuals. Flu-related hospital visits are higher than average. Compounding the issue, this year’s flu vaccine is proving only to be about 10 percent effective.
Healthy habits are protective. Commit to a nutritious diet filled with antioxidant-loaded fruits and vegetables, restful sleep, ongoing hydration, and good hygiene. And, don’t forget one of the best flu-fighters—your workout.
Sweat It Off
Research continues to prove the benefits of exercise in fighting off germs. Consistent exercisers lower their susceptibility to illnesses. When they do contract the occasional cold or even the flu, their fit state improves recovery time and reduces symptoms. Studies indicate several reasons for this. Here are top ways exercise builds a better immune system (along with the rest of the body).
- Increased circulation during exercise quickly propels infection-fighting white blood cells, and other immune system supporters, throughout the body. This improves the body’s reaction time to germs, attacking them before they have a chance to react.
- A healthy sweat session eliminates toxins from your body. Your elevated body temperature during a workout also helps burn off germs. Infections must not be as comfortable when your interior temp becomes tropical. Get to the Fitness Floor and bring on the heat!
- As a secondary benefit, exercise triggers thirst. Drinking water and healthy fluids further helps flush toxins from your system. Increased heart rate elevates breathing, which helps purify lungs from bacteria and particles. Reducing “waste” in the body, germs and otherwise, decreases risk for infections.
- Exercise is thought to refine the way the body reacts to inflammation. A healthy workout introduces minor tissue damage and inflammation. This process seems to familiarize the body with “trauma” and how to efficiently begin healing. It also appears to help the body develop a more effective immune response by creating targeted inflammation in helpfully minimal doses.
- Stress weakens the immune system, and the body overall. Exercise relieves tension through healthy exhaustion. It also releases feel-good hormones like endorphins and reduces stress hormones like cortisol. A happy mind can better nourish a strong, resilient body.
- Fitness reinforces your healthy lifestyle. The goodness of a workout inspires additional healthy choices like better nutrition, quality sleep, and other small but significant daily actions. With each workout, you further develop the mindset of a healthy, fierce flu fighter.
Go ahead and try the latest antidote. Make cocktails of honey, vinegar, lemons, and spices grown under a full moon. Stock your shelves with saline spray and tissues. However, instead of spending time tracking the latest flu reports and symptoms while fretting over your officemate’s cough, give your body a fighting chance. Break out in a healthy sweat!
“Exercise and Immunity,” at medlineplus.gov.
“How Exercise May Help Us Fight off Colds,” by Gretchen Reynolds at nytimes.com.
“5 Things You Should Know about This Year’s Very Bad Flu” by Barbara Feder Ostrov at philly.com.
Fruit water: pixabay.com/en/fruit-strawberry-orange-kiwi-3071924