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Self-care: How to strengthen your immunity amid coronavirus outbreak

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Self-care: How to strengthen your immunity amid coronavirus outbreak

While the coronavirus If the situation intensifies, you may be asking yourself: how can I stay healthy?

The answer lies in following the latest guidelines on social distance, proper hand washing and your local guidelines for staying at home.

But there are also ways to strengthen your own immune system. Diet is one of them, and we covered this here in the first part of our immunity boost series.

However, what you eat is only one factor. Being physically active, meditating and managing stress, and getting adequate sleep help as well. Read on to find out why these habits boost your immunity and how you can take advantage of their benefits.

Find time to exercise

Regular physical activity is a great way to help manage stress and strengthen your immune system. Indeed, surveys show who "fit individuals" – defined as those who participate in regular physical activity – have a lower incidence of infection compared to inactive and sedentary individuals. What's more, being physically active can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases this can further weaken your immune system, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

How does exercise help? On the one hand, physical activity helps to wash bacteria from the lungs, decreasing your chances of getting a cold, flu or other illness. Exercise also lowers the body's levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, explained MaryAnn Browning, CEO and founder of Browningsfitness. Lower levels of stress hormones can protect against disease.

"Exercise also stimulates the production of endorphins – chemicals in the brain that are natural painkillers and mood elevators," said Browning.

For essential fitness items at home, Browning recommends purchasing a set of yellow, green and red resistance bands (colors correspond to various levels of resistance). "They can be used for working the back, biceps, triceps, shoulders and legs," said Browning.

She also recommends looping bands contour your calves or thighs, which strengthens your buttocks and can help prevent injuries to your knees and back.

For a cardio workout at home, Browning recommends jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicking, burpees and switches – during which you'll jump to turn 180 degrees and then come back again – for 15 seconds each. Then repeat the circuit five to 10 times, depending on what you can handle.

And don't forget the joy of dancing! My girls and I love to play our favorite songs and participate in improvised parties for a wonderful indoor activity that improves the mood, without the need for equipment. Try to create fun dance routines or ask someone to play DJ and compete in "frozen dance".

If you are looking for something a little more structured, there are many options online to choose from. My girls and I like the Yoga with Adrienne YouTube channel, which offers free yoga videos. Free on-demand programs are also available at YMCA360.organd include boot camp, Barre, yoga and low-impact programs for the elderly.

Another option is Melissa Wood Health Exercises, which can be accessed online or through her app. "You can use light weights or your own body weight, and they are fast, but super effective. They were an absolute boon for me during that time!" said Jamie Plancher, who has a master's degree in emergency and disaster management and is "tracking Covid-19 like a hawk".

"I am obsessed with Alexia Clark's Exercises"said Lindsey Schwartz, who currently studies her children at home in New York." Every day is different … she is the queen of making sure you use as many muscles as possible on a circuit and know how to keep it interesting. "

Although this program has a subscription-based application, you can also find free exercises on Instagram by Alexia Clark and IGTV.

Meditate

If you have not yet tried mediation, now may be a good time to start. AN recent review involving 20 randomized controlled trials, including more than 1,600 people, suggested that meditation may help to keep the immune system functioning optimally.

A stressful circumstance like the one we are facing now can negatively affect the immune system, but "a consistent meditation practice can help us respond better to stressful situations," explained Ellie Burrows Gluck, a professor of Vedic meditation and founder and CEO of MNDFL, a New York City meditation studio that also offers live practices broadcast live with meditation experts on MNDFL TV.

"Life is confusing, and while meditation is not a cure, all of this can help us remember to breathe and that we will never be able to clean it up," said Gluck.

To start meditating, just bring your full attention to your breath. Sitting upright can help and your eyes may be closed or open. When you notice, your mind wanders with thoughts like, "What am I going to have lunch for?" breathe again without judgment.

Gluck says that after practicing for a while and learning to choose between breathing and thinking, you can "apply that same mechanism of choice to (your) response to stressful situations". Most studies show that you need to practice at least 10 minutes a day, for 8 to 10 weeks, to see the benefits over time, added Gluck.

When meditating, it is a good idea to seek consistency when it comes to the style of meditation; the time of day and the duration of your practice; and its surroundings. You can choose your favorite spot on the couch or in a corner designated with a meditation cushion, advised Gluck.

Manage stress

Research over 25 years has revealed that psychological stress increases disease susceptibility (PDF).

Prolonged or chronic stress can negatively affect the immune system, reducing the body's ability to defend itself against viruses and bacteria, he explained. Allison Forti, licensed clinical clinical counselor in mental health and associate director of the Online Masters in Counseling Program at Wake Forest University.

In addition, when stressed, it is not uncommon for people to engage in coping strategies, such as drinking alcohol in excess, smoking cigarettes, eating a poor diet or not getting enough sleep, which can also adversely affect the immune system, he added. Forti.

To calm our anxiety during this stressful period, first recognize that it is okay to feel stressed, anxious and afraid. "It's okay to panic … look for ways to stick in a safe and healthy way that doesn't harm others," said Forti.

It is important to maintain a sense of connection with friends and loved ones. Email, phone or FaceTime relatives and we have live cocktails with friends, like my husband and I did on Saturday night. (Good news: you can responsibly "drink and zoom in.") And children can also benefit from staying connected. One of my mother's friends recently organized a pajama party via Zoom for my daughter and her friends.

It is also important to avoid judging your feelings and thoughts, Forti explained. Acknowledge them with a sense of care and appreciation and release the expectation that things should be normal now. For example, if you are stressed about not setting the perfect schedule for home schooling or web-based activities for your kids, that's fine.

"Maintaining rigid thought patterns exacerbates stress and anxiety," said Forti. "Flexibility is needed during this period of uncertainty and rapid change."

At my home, this means working with multiple interruptions and allowing my girls to have access to TikTok on my iPhone, plus some extra cookies.

For those who experience high levels of stress or anxiety, it can be helpful to be aware when consuming media updates. "Be aware of how the news affects you. Does it trigger your anxiety? Alternatively, it makes you feel safe, because now you can choose what to do with that information?" Forti said. You can ask a friend to keep you informed of the main alerts, so you don't have to check the media, Forti recommended.

Don't skimp on sleep

Finally, get your z & # 39; s. Failure to do so may adversely affect the immune system, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

To keep your immune system strong, NSF advises that you get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. But if your mind keeps you awake or you just can't get that amount, fill in the blanks with naps.

According to the NSF, taking two naps with a maximum of 30 minutes each – one in the morning and one in the afternoon – has been shown to help decrease stress and compensate for the negative effects that sleep deprivation has on the immune system. If that's not realistic, a 20-minute nap during the lunch break or before dinner can also help.

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