With COVID spreading rapidly and new strains emerging, it doesn’t seem like this is a virus we will soon be living without. We have to start talking about things we can do to strengthen our immune system to better prevent from getting the virus or to fight off the virus with less complications if we become infected. We all know about taking vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc but did you know one of the best things we can do to strengthen our immune systems is exercise?
Exercise is like steroids for your immune system. It strengthens your cardiovascular and respiratory systems like nothing else. One study showed that individuals that just walked 30 minutes per day decreased their sick days by 43% compared to those who are sedentary. It also shows a decrease in severity of symptoms by 32%-41%.
Some of the purported benefits of exercise on the immune system are not scientifically proven but medlineplus.gov highlights some of the theories as to how physical activity may have a positive effect on your immune system. One theory is that physical activity may help flush out bacteria from the respiratory system.
Another known benefit of exercise is reduced stress. Regular exercise reduces cortisol levels which in turn lowers your risk of becoming ill. High cortisol levels are tied to decreased immune function as well as a slew of other medical conditions.
You can start incorporating regular physical activity into your lifestyle by going on daily 30 minute walks or bike rides. Bring a family member or furry friend along for even more enjoyment. This way you can both get the benefits of exercise and sunshine (vitamin D)! For even more immune boosting, try weight training a few times a week but remember not to overdo your exercises. Working out too hard or for too long can actually make you more susceptible to falling ill by making you feel tired and run down.
Now get outside and strengthen that immune system!