Body Buzz – Immune To It All
by Sasha Kanal
With our immune systems under attack over the colder months, some simple exercises could help give our immunity the boost it needs.
It’s a given that immunity plays a vital part in our health and wellbeing.
Aside from healthy eating and avoiding habits that are damaging to our bodies, exercise also has a big role to play when it comes to boosting our immunity naturally. Winter and early spring can be prime time for our immune system to be tested to the limit and then some. Think cold March winds, stuffy office environments, centrally heated homes and packed commuter trains, coupled with the odd warmer day and you have the perfect storm for germs and other nasties.
Medical experts agree that regular exercise can benefit your immune system in a number of ways. As well as making your heart, lungs and muscles stronger it may also do the following:
- Help to actually flush out bacteria from the lungs and airways reducing your chance of getting a cold or flu.
- Beneficially affect the white blood cells and antibodies in our immune system by providing a boost to these cells that attack bacteria in your body.
White blood cells fight disease and are known to circulate more rapidly in the blood system with exercise, therefore detecting illness earlier than they might have done before.
- The brief rise in body temperature during and after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing, as it is thought to help the body fight infection more effectively (similar to experiencing a fever).
- Exercise impedes and inhibits the release of stress hormones, which may in turn protect against illness.
All it takes is thirty minutes, three times a week as recommended by doctors to give your body’s defences a boost.
As always, that wonderful panacea, walking, is a great, low impact way to experience this and is easy to incorporate into hectic days. In fact any exercise you enjoy is going to help, but be careful not to overdo it. Research has shown that exercising to the point of exhaustion can also suppress the immune system, so do take it easy.
Stretching is also an effective way to stimulate your immunity as it affects the flow of lymphatic fluid (the clear substance which delivers immune cells and removes pathogens around the body). Here are three easy stretches to try at home. Build those defences high!
1 Hang Your Head
Stand tall (or sit) with your shoulders relaxed and down. Allow your head to gently drop forward. Relax and hold for thirty seconds and repeat. This movement can help move lymph through the throat and neck area.
2 Cross Country
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms straight by your sides. Now swing one arm forward and the other back simultaneously for one minute or longer. Lift your back arm without twisting your sides. This can help to move lymphatic fluid through the chest, armpits and lung areas.
3 V for Victory!
For the more supple amongst you! Lie back on the floor with your bottom against the wall and reach your legs up the wall, allowing them to drop open as far as you can whilst keeping them straight. Remain in position for a minute or so. This will open your hips and encourage lymph flow through the large lymph nodes in the groin.
CAUTION: If you are unsure of any new exercise regime please consult your GP before commencing.