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Monday, Aug. 23, 2021

BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

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Focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle

As seasons change, so do daily and social activities. The transitional period from summer to fall, before winter takes hold, is the perfect time to focus on boosting our immune system through exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

Here are a few tips on how to stay healthy during the changing of the seasons.

Make time for exercise. Stay active! Exercise, along with a healthy diet, is one of the most effective ways to improve your immune system. Take an organized class, lift weights, go outside for a walk or just dance in your living room. Any movement will work. It’s important to get your heart pumping and increase your circulation daily, so move to the point to where you can talk but not carry on a lengthy conversation. At least 30 minutes of exercise each day will optimize your benefits from exercise. Willis-Knighton Fitness & Wellness Centers offer state-of-the-art facilities with highly educated staff that will keep you safe and healthy while you exercise.

Cold weather can affect our activities and how we feel doing them. A common complaint is joint pain. Research has not been able to explain precisely why joint pain occurs with changing seasons and weather. One theory is the change in air pressure and its effects on the surrounding tissues. The pressure causes the surrounding tissues to expand, which in turn adds pressure to the joints, causing pain. Another theory is that cold causes the muscle, connective tissues and ligaments to contract and pull on the nerves near joints. Regardless of the reason, the best thing you can do to avoid joint pain during the cooler months is to keep moving. Exercise loosens stiff joints and helps prevent or reduce added weight, which, in turn, puts more stress on the joints.

Eat healthy. A healthy diet is key in fighting illness. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Seasonal plants are ideal since they have the vitamins and nutrients needed during the season you are in. They are also fresh, and the nutritional level is at its highest. Some foods to consider: Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, turnips, crab apples, cranberries.

The top two ways to boost our immune system are staying active and eating a nutritious diet, but there are also other ways to achieve a stronger and healthier body.

Rise and shine at the same time. Adequate sleep is essential to a healthy life. During sleep, our body heals itself. Hormones are released that slow down your breathing and relax muscles. This helps reduce inflammation and contributes to healing. Adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Take advantage of the earlier sunsets and get some healthy rest. Try to keep your normal bedtime and waking hours the same as the rest of the year.

Reduce stress. Stress is linked to weight gain, heart disease, cancer, depressed immune system and many other health problems. Learning to respond differently to stressful situations can help reduce your risks and improve your immune system. Take time each day to be still and focus on your breath. Use this time to reflect on your day and how you can control your responses to situations in ways that can reduce your anxiety. Do not think about how to avoid certain conflicts, but how to respond to them in a way that brings resolution and improves your mental health. Practice regular deep breathing. This is the quickest and easiest way to reduce your stress. Try a digital detox. Put that cell phone away in the evening and enjoy anything other than a screen. Lastly, laugh a little — no, laugh a lot! Studies show that laughter can reduce your stress levels and improve your health through many factors including increased circulation and a good mental state.

Increase vitamin D. Vitamin D helps improve your immune system. Your body stores vitamin D in fat tissue. Enjoy some sunlight this fall by getting outside when the weather permits. When the sun isn’t shining, you can eat foods (cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, milk) or take a supplement that increases your vitamin D. Ask your doctor for a supplement that is right for you.

Cooler weather can affect our health, but we can do our part to combat the negative changes and embrace the positive. During this particularly stressful time in today’s world, it is important to focus on our health and wellness. With positive changes, we can fight illnesses to stay healthy and well.

Holly Sanders is a WK Fitness & Wellness Centers exercise specialist.

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