This upcoming weekend will be the first dip into Fall temperatures across New Mexico, causing many to reach into the back of their closets for that light jacket or coat they have not seen in several months. With highs in the 90 degree range only a few short weeks ago, our bodies are sensitive to not only a change in temperature, but also humidity and pressure. Take this opportunity to prepare your immune system for the colder Fall and Winter months and illness that typically accompanies.
The first of October is the beginning of the cold and flu season for many people across the country. Did you know daily moderate exercise is essentially a medication you can take to help prevent getting sick? Researchers have found that regular moderate exercise can help lessen your chances of getting sick. If you do get sick, according to recent studies , those who exercise regularly tend to be less sick than those who don’t exercise as often. With exercise, researchers found, the number and aggressiveness of infection fighting immune cells increases by 50 percent to 300 percent.
People who exercise regularly have lower levels stress hormones and more white blood cells in their blood, both which help fight infection and illness. However, the opposite is true for those who exert themselves too much during exercise. Working out more than 90 minutes at a high-intensity can actually weaken your immune system  72 hours following the workout, as more stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, remain in your system.
The best exercises to boost your immune system are those you are going to stick with and incorporate into your daily routine. From walking to swimming, yoga and stretching, and even weight training; exercise helps circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout your body at a faster rate than when you are not exercising. Stretching and yoga helps to stimulate the lymphatic system, speeding up the distribution of toxin-killing antibodies throughout your body. Strength training helps to produce a protein reserve, essential to creating additional white blood cells and antibodies when an infection strikes.
Track Exercise and Stick with It
The true benefit of exercise is revealed overtime, consistently promoting a healthy weight, improved physical and emotional health, and boosting immunity to fight infection. There are several ways to keep exercise a consistent part of your daily routine. Find an exercise partner to add accountability and fun to your workouts. Keep track of your exercise through websites or apps specifically designed to track your progress, help reach your goals and connect with your social networks. Change up your exercise regime when you don’t find yourself as energized to stick with it. Try a new class at the gym, hit a different bike path or try working out at a different time of day. The most important aspect to realizing the benefits of exercise is to stay with it and keep doing it every day.
How do you stay healthy during the cold and flu season? Share your tips on our Facebook page!