7 Tips to Exercise for Your Immune System

We often hear about the many health benefits of exercise. From lowering blood pressure to strengthening the heart and lungs, consistent workouts provide a variety of physical and mental health benefits that touch nearly every system in the body.

Does this plethora of benefits include? The immune-boosting potential of a good workout — something many of us start thinking about this time of year.

However, when the right Types of exercise in the right While the intensity and duration can strengthen your immune system, working out too much, too hard, or skipping germy gym hygiene essentials can be a recipe for catching something that makes you sick.

What is the best type of exercise to boost immunity?

Bias aside, yoga teacher Tatiana Souza, who has a PhD in immunology and is also the owner of Coolidge Yoga in Boston, says that the best exercise to boost the immune system is yoga.

“Studies have shown that regular yoga practice can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood, leading to less inflammation,” she says. “It can also reduce inflammatory markers in the blood.”

In many ways, yoga is ideal for boosting optimal immunity because it combines elements of movement, breathing and meditation.

“Active yoga poses target the muscles, joints, circulatory and lymphatic systems. The poses improve the movement of lymphatic fluid in the body, which improves the function of your immune system,” explains Dr. Souza. “The poses have a pro-digestion effect, which also boosts your immune system. Helps. Active postures can help bring blood and circulation to your chest, throat, and nose to create more space around your lungs and help your body’s mucous membranes (our first line of defense against foreign invaders) work better. .”

She adds that another quality of yoga that makes it uniquely beneficial for supporting the immune system is its emphasis on breathing exercises, meditation and restorative postures. These calming activities work to activate the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system and calm the sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system, which is normally activated during times of stress.

“This reduces stress and stress hormones, improves sleep quality and allows the body to be in ‘rest and digest’ mode, when the body can better digest, process toxins, process and repair information from our day. A molecular any damage at the level,” shares Dr. Souza. “All of these processes help make our bodies more resilient when faced with outside attacks.”

So, it is only Yoga that can improve the immune system?

no Studies also show that aerobic exercise can reduce inflammation, support the gut microbiota that fights pathogens, improve the activity of immune cells, and reduce the risk of infection. Any type of physical activity that gets you up to at least 50 percent of your maximum heart rate for a sustained period—you can run, walk, bike, row, hike, use the elliptical machine, climb the stairs, or take up Zumba. until your heart rate rises.

When working out backfire

Although exercise has the ability to support your immune system, Dr. Doing too much can tip the scales in the other direction, says Souza.

“Any exercise that puts too much stress on the body and upregulates stress hormones for a long period of time will negatively affect our immune system,” she says. “An example is endurance training where you work your body for two to three hours a day doing vigorous physical activity like running or biking multiple times per week. Strenuous workouts like CrossFit and HIIT every day can also throw your stress hormones out of balance.”

If you’re trying to prevent colds and flu, focus on moderation and making sure you get enough recovery between strenuous efforts.

7 Tweaks to Make Your Workout Stay Healthy

People work out for all different reasons. But if you want to take advantage of a fitness routine to help you stay healthy, Dr. Souza recommends these tips to guide your approach to exercise:

1. Mix up your workouts

Instead of going for a run every single day, for example, make sure you follow a well-rounded exercise program that includes a variety of movements. “Everything is fine in moderation,” says Dr. Souza. “If you exercise every day, alternate it with some days of cardio, some days of weight training, and some days of restorative yoga and meditation.”

2. Avoid marathon sessions

“Keep your workouts between 20 and 60 minutes. So, there is a short period of stress after rest,” says Dr. Souza.

3. Try yoga

Even if you love nothing more than lifting heavy weights, adding yoga to your workout routine undoubtedly has an immune-boosting benefit. “A yoga practice like a vinyasa flow mixed with some yin yoga can be the right balance of tension and relaxation to optimize your immune system, nervous system, and musculoskeletal system,” says Dr. Souza.

Give this calming yoga flow a shot for stress relief:

4: Do some meditation and breath work

To replicate some of the unique benefits of yoga, incorporate meditation and breathing exercises into your routine. It doesn’t have to be long—even a few minutes a day can do wonders for your immune system and mental health.

5. Don’t forget to stretch

Once you’ve finished your last rep, give your body time to cool down instead of jumping straight to the next thing on your to-do list. “Always end with a stretch that can lengthen your muscles, detoxify lymph, and bring your nervous system into a down-regulated state,” says Dr. Souza. “Incorporate movements such as twists, forward folds, side stretches, backbends and inversions for ultimate resistance.”

6. Practice good hygiene

If you work out in a public space like a gym or fitness studio, make sure to wash your hands after your workout. Avoid touching your face when using shared exercise equipment like weights or even yoga.

7. Listen to your body

If you feel a cold, infection or virus, rest. Nourish your immune system with vitamin C, zinc, good nutrition and plenty of sleep.

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