COVID-19…It’s kind of like the cult classic movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers out there. There’s a mysterious force at work that you can’t see or hear, but it’s quietly infecting millions of people around the world.
One minute you’re fine…and then out of nowhere you’re exhibiting symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, headache, sort throat, loss of taste or smell).1 Your body recognizes the invasion, and your immune system kicks in to fight the virus.
How’s your immune system?
It’s a question on a lot of people’s minds while COVID-19 continues to spread. If you get sick, will your immune system be able to fight back and help you recover? And is there anything you can do right now to strengthen your immune system?
Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and breathe a sigh of relief…because you can strengthen your immune system with healthy lifestyle habits. You’re not going to build immunity against COVID-19 overnight, but you can take steps to help your body fight off the virus. Here are 9 things you can do:
- Drink Up
No, not alcohol. That’s a myth. “Alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes,” according to the World Health Organization.2
“People should minimize their alcohol consumption at any time, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.”Drink more water. Keeping your body well hydrated helps the immune system fight infection when you’re exposed to germs, viruses, or bacteria that can make you sick.3 Aim for 6 to 8 glasses of water a day…more if you live in a hot climate or if you’re very active.
- Get Your Zzzs
You might be tempted to stay up late and skimp on sleep if you’re stuck at home. But poor sleep habits weaken the immune system and alter hormones that can help your body fight off an invasion.4Getting the right amount of sleep (about 7 to 9 hours) can help give your immune system the edge if you do get infected with a virus or catch a cold.
- Stress Less
It’s easy to be stressed out right now, especially if COVID-19 has impacted you personally. Maybe you’re stressed about learning all the tech tools to work remotely. Maybe you’ve been laid off, or your hours have been cut. Maybe managing online learning for your kids is stressing you out. Or maybe you’re worried about getting infected or the toilet paper shortage at the grocery store. It’s a stressful time.But if you don’t manage stress in healthy ways, it has a negative impact on hormones that regulate your immune system. It puts you at risk for getting sick, and taking longer to recover if you do.5
Learn to manage stress in healthy ways during COVID-19:
- Talk with a friend by phone or video chat
- Listen to relaxing music
- Laugh more by reading a funny book or watching a comedy
- Practice deep breathing exercises
- Talk a walk or exercise
- Be More Active
So your gym is closed during COVID-19? That doesn’t mean your new workout consists of pushing yourself up from the couch and pulling the refrigerator door open. If you want to keep your immune system healthy, you can do better.Research shows regular exercise can help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system to fight an infection.6 Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
- Take a walk
- Ride a bike
- Do body weight exercises at home (push-ups, jumping jacks, planks, squats)
- Jump rope
- Pick a fitness video or workout and follow along
- Exercise while watching a show
- Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
It’s no secret most adults don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.Are you getting 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day?Now is always a good time to start.Why? Fruits and vegetables (especially brightly colored) are packed with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that help fight inflammation, keep cells healthy, and help the immune system fight off an infection.7
Besides fruits and vegetables, other healthy foods include: whole grain, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Want to keep your immune system healthy? Adopt these 5 habits to improve your health and fight off an invasion from a virus, bacteria, or the common cold.
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