How to boost your immune system this winter

Article posted in: Lifestyle

‘Tis the season of runny noses, scratchy throats and annoying coughs. To help give your body a better fighting chance against cold and flu, strengthen your immune system with these simple tips:

Breathe deeply. It’s one of the most basic meditation techniques, and one that can help calm you down and reduce stress. Chronic stress suppresses the immune system, and can increase your susceptibility to colds, and other illnesses. One study found people who practiced 45 minutes of mindful mediation every day for 8 weeks had a 40 to 50 percent reduction in respiratory infections, compared to those who did not meditate. But if you don’t have time for that, spend even just a few minutes a day focusing all your attention on your breathing. Concentrate on inhaling slowly through your nose, allowing your chest to rise as you fill your lungs; and then exhaling through your mouth. You can also try thinking of a relaxing place or phrase as you breathe.

Wash your hands. Viruses live on your hands, and cleaning them regularly—especially after touching anyone who is sick or anything that may be germy—can help protect you from getting sick. Scrub for 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you’re not near a sink.

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Go for a walk. And try to do it on most days. Research out of Appalachian State University showed those who walk briskly for about 40 minutes, five days a week, had half as many sick days from colds than those who don’t exercise. When you’re walking or exercising at a moderate pace, immune cells circulate through the body more quickly and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses; consistent, regular exercise seems to make these changes and benefits last longer, according to the American Council on Exercise.

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Get enough rest. Lack of sleep can affect how well your immune system fights infectious diseases; and studies have shown that those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. The optimal amount of sleep: seven to nine hours, every night. Not sure how? We’ve got you covered here.