Improving your immune system fitness
- Improving your immune fitness is more than just preventing colds in winter.
- It’s about taking steps to make your immune system stronger and more resilient, all the time.
- Your immune system works best when all the other body systems are also supported.
- Building immune resilience and strengthening your immune system is about how you well you support your overall general health and wellbeing.
- You might be surprised by some of the easy techniques you can use every day to build and support your immune fitness.
- Time outdoors, physical activity, meditation, deep breathing, sufficient sleep and massage are just some of the approaches that you can take to get immune fit.
When we talk about immunity around wintertime, we tend to think of boosting our immune system to protect us from winter common cold and flus. But you might be looking to delve deeper into bolstering your immunity and realising how precious the immune system is and just how much we rely on it to keep us well.
So, what does immune resilience look like beyond reaching for your vitamin C when your family comes down with a cough or common cold? Keep reading for a deeper understanding of why immune fitness is important year-round.
What is immune fitness?
The immune system maintains good health and helps prevent disease by protecting us from harmful substances such as bacteria, viruses or toxins. A resilient immune system has a positive effect on lifelong health.
The immune system is moving, changing and adapting constantly to deal with these daily encounters. Sometimes it’s under pressure from all angles – common colds and flu going around, stress, allergies and poor sleep or nutrition – other times it’s resting and recharging.
Immune fitness refers to the building and maintaining of a resilient immune system, or the ability of the immune system to be strong and effective in protecting the body, despite the daily impacts and stresses, with the capacity to adapt to challenges and regulate appropriate immune responses.
We want to be immune fit so our body easily recovers from adverse conditions and is able to stay in balance and healthy in the long-term.
Building immune resilience requires a holistic, all-over body approach. There’s not just one vitamin, herb or treatment, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming either. Immune fitness is built up over time, through daily practices, that can easily become habitual.
Benefits of a strong immune system
Thanks to the multifaceted approach required for immune fitness, it comes with a whole host of benefits to many parts of the body. As you work to improve the resilience of your immune system, you will be moving more, increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory, high fibre and nutrient-dense foods to support your gut, liver and overall health.
Benefits of building immune fitness may include reduced rate of infection, better recovery from illness and greater overall health and fitness.
Tips for keeping your immune system fit
Here are some of the ways you can improve immune system resilience every day.
Physical fitness = immune fitness
A combination of aerobic (or cardio) and anaerobic exercise helps to boost the immune system.
Uses oxygen and increases heart rate
- Brisk walking
- Skipping rope
- Intense, heavy cleaning
Does not require oxygen
- Weightlifting and strength training
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Circuit training
- Yoga, Pilates
- Squats, pushups, burpees
You don’t need to join a gym; many of these immunity booster exercises can be done in the comfort of your own home or try one of the many free yoga or Pilates on YouTube. To find out more about the link between the immune system and exercise, check out this blog.
Become one with nature
How does nature boost immunity? Well, we know that a positive mindset is linked to immunity and time in nature is linked to a positive mindset. Research also shows that exposure to an array of microorganisms in the natural world actually fine-tunes the immune system to react appropriately.
Practise stress relief techniques
Find a stress-relief technique that works for you and build it into your daily routine for improved immune fitness.
Not sure where to start? Try our short guided meditation video.
Get your vitamin ZZZ
Sleep and immune function go hand-in-hand, believe it or not! A lot of the restoration and training needed for immune fitness happens during our deep sleep cycle.
The cross-talk that happens during sleep is also one of the reasons that good sleep is so important for healing during infection.
Check out our 12 tips for getting more quality sleep.
Eat for immunity
A healthy diet feeds a healthy immune system and then, in-turn, helps build resilience. Immune cells depend heavily on dietary protein and vitamins and minerals to operate at their best. Focus on eating seasonally to ensure you are getting optimal doses of required nutrients.
Protein isn’t talked about all that much when it comes to immunity, but amino acids form the basis of key immune proteins that keep you fighting fit.
If you’re concerned about your diet for the immune system coming into the colder months, check out our 6 tips for healthy winter eating from traditional Chinese medicine.
Cold therapy to keep colds at bay
You may be curious to discover, cold exposure boosts the immune system. A trial conducted with 3000 participants showed that cold therapy (in this case daily cold showers) reduced sick days by 29%. So, turn the shower on cold for at least 30 second every day for a month, if you’re game to try and stick it out!
Massage your immune system
If you love getting a massage, here’s one more excuse to go get one – gentle massage can stimulate the immune system.
Increased immune fitness from massage? What could be better?
Building immune resilience is the long-term approach to supporting your immune health. Incorporating healthy daily habits is an easy way to do this. Change it up and try something new with one (or all!) of these techniques for staying immune fit, for life.
To dive deeper on how to build immune resilience, check out our brand new e-book Support your Immune Fitness.
- Andersen L, et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2021;18(4):1416.
- Besedovsky L, et al. The sleep-immune crosstalk in health and disease. Physiol Rev 2019;99(3):1325-1380.
- Rapaport MH, et al. J Altern Complement Med 2012;18(8):789-797.