Health & Wellness Articles

6 Steps to Strengthen Your Immune System

Boost Your Body's Defenses


2. Exercise Regularly
According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS), data from numerous studies show that regular exercise reduces the number of sick days. In three separate studies cited in the June 2001 issue of the PCPFS’ Research Digest, women who engaged in 35-45 minutes of brisk walking, five days a week, for 12-15 weeks experienced a reduced number of sick days compared to the control (sedentary) group. Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to provide these benefits—in fact moderate exercise may even achieve a better result. A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that upper respiratory infections were more common among athletes during heavy training. Whatever you do, listen to your body. If you’re under the weather already, take it easy until you feel better.

3. Get Enough Sleep
Deep sleep stimulates and energizes the immune system, while sleep deprivation has the opposite effect. According to authors of a sleep study published in 2001 in the journal Seminars in Clinical Neuropsychiatry, significant detrimental effects on immune functioning can be seen after a few days of total sleep deprivation or even several days of just partial sleep deprivation. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult needs between 7 and 8 hours a night, although some people may need as few as 5 hours or as many as 10 hours. To make sure you are getting enough quality sleep, avoid caffeinated drinks (and other stimulants), decongestants, tobacco and alcohol. Alcohol can assist falling into a light sleep, but it interferes with REM and the deeper stages of sleep, which are restorative.

4. Manage Stress
Between fender benders, work deadlines, marital problems and hectic schedules, keeping stress out of your life is impossible. But how you choose to react to stress can greatly impact your overall health. Sweeping problems under the rug as opposed to solving them can turn short-term stress into chronic stress, which can cause health problems. According to the National Institutes of Health, hormones (like cortisol) that hang around during chronic stress can put us at risk for obesity, heart disease, cancer, and a variety of other illnesses. These stress hormones can work in two ways, either switching off disease-fighting white blood cells or triggering a hyperactive immune system, which increases your risk of developing auto-immune diseases. So find ways to de-stress a few times per week, whether you exercise, practice yoga, meditate, or take a relaxing bath.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • Sleep and stress??? Have too much of one and not enough of the other!!! - 10/13/2015 4:04:38 PM
  • LOL

    Pre the article I was doing pretty good with improving my immune system until today . . . and then I had wine.


    - 10/10/2015 11:39:49 PM
  • Keep in mind that most of your immune system is in your gut. Healthy gut equals healthy everything.

    The foods that make you fat ALSO ruin your immune system. Obesity is a symptom NOT a cause.

    The biggest culprits are the empty calories in grains and starches. Most people think that they only need to cut out sugar to improve their health, but it's almost impossible to cut JUST sugars. You'll be starving, crabby, and having constant cravings.

    Starch is the enemy - it feeds all the wrong gut bacteria, makes your body store energy as fat instead of using it, and gives you almost no nutritional bang for your caloric buck! - 10/10/2015 8:34:47 PM
  • BERCH1981
    Share with you the 4 best ways to support your immune system naturally, that will help you have better health and lower health care costs.
    turally.html - 2/5/2015 7:45:42 AM
  • SSMITH7606
    Now, more than ever it's vitally important to support your immune system. You can find an amazing assortment of premium, high quality, all natural nutritional supplements to support immune defense (Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Colloidal Silver, Green Tea Extract, SUPER ANTIOXIDANT OPC and more): http://www.antiag
    upport.html - 11/3/2014 6:01:29 PM
    I was hoping for something more. My son has struggled with a weak immune system most of his life, and none of this is going to help him. - 10/24/2014 8:25:20 AM
  • What a fantastic naturopathic website! Thanks so much for the referral. - 9/28/2014 10:31:54 AM
    Great information provided. In addition I have also came across a great article that focuses on ways to check if you have a low immune system as well as how to boost your immune system.Thought it would be worth the share: http://www.drdnat
    Enjoy! - 12/4/2013 11:21:28 AM
  • I still recall that when I was a smoker I ALWAYS had to stop when I got a cold or the flu.
    - 11/3/2013 8:31:54 PM
  • ...duh. Fluff piece. - 1/15/2013 6:52:31 PM
  • Pretty much things in moderation & not to abuse our bodies with smoking & alcohol - makes sense. - 9/8/2012 10:13:26 PM
  • Really enjoyed this article! The 6 tips were great! Definetely will put them to practice! Good thing I am not a smoker, so that is one less thing to worry about! - 2/23/2012 10:42:16 AM
  • Definitely need to follow this advice! - 12/8/2011 10:24:25 PM
  • Good article! Clearly I need to find ways to stress less and exercise more. I'm glad to see that I'm doing most of the other things right. - 12/8/2011 11:09:28 AM
    Great article. I know we have heard so much of this info before, just need to apply it! I catch colds way too often, now I have some immune ammo to build up my body with. hugs deb - 8/29/2011 6:28:22 PM

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