One of the best steps a person can take to stay healthy is by engaging in a regular fitness routine. While this seems commonsensical, I've yet to hear any of our public health officials actually suggest this. Perhaps because they think people won't actually do it, or that exercise is too complicated. However, exercise and fitness aren't complicated and almost everyone can begin to engage in some sort of fitness routine.
Just moderate levels of exercise (30-60 minutes a day, for most days of the week) has well-established research showing improved immunity. Regular exercisers have half the risk of getting sick than do sedentary people, for catching all types of respiratory (lung) illnesses.
But, like everything, there can be too much of a good thing! People who exercise to excess levels (90-120 or more minutes a day, most days of the week) are 2-4x more susceptible to catching respiratory and GI-related illnesses!
So, exercising at moderate intensity is important, and there are 5 basic lifestyle and nutrient factors you can use to keep your immune system strong:
1. Lower stress! - high stress raises the hormone cortisol, which after an extended period of time acts to suppress immune function.
2. Fix insomnia! Broken or fractured sleep can also lead to elevated cortisol levels and a negative, immune-lowering effect.
3. Vitamin C - Studies have shown marathon runners that take vitamin C through their training season end up with half the respiratory infections than those that took no vitamin C. Despite what 'they' say, vitamin C is an important immune supporting nutrient.
4. Vitamin D - a very powerful immune system booster - supplement with vitamin D if you don't get regular, mid-day sun exposure.
5. Zinc - zinc is a mineral that's been show to slow down how viruses reproduce in our bodies - supplementing with zinc may be a good idea as well.