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With the coronavirus a hot topic right now, there are many people wondering what they can do to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus.
Well, having a strong immune system would be a good start!
In the following article, we are going to look at how building muscle can boost your immune system, plus other methods you can use to boost your immunity.
Why Is Your Immune System Important?
If you are not taking proper care of yourself then you are going to leave yourself open to illness and various viruses. This can have a huge impact on your professional and family life.
We are not going to go into too much detail about how viruses like COVID-19 can impact you financially but rather how falling ill can affect your gains.
If you are ill you shouldn’t be hitting the gym, not until you have recovered fully at least. And while you will recover those lost gains eventually, if you have an upcoming bodybuilding show any bouts of illness can have a serious impact on how you look in that show.
Those lost gains can also have a negative impact on someone's confidence, which can have serious repercussions.
How Does Building Muscle Boost Your Immune System?
There are a few ways that building muscle can boost your immune system.
According to research at the Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina, participants in a study saw 43% fewer days with URTI (upper respiratory tract illness) symptoms when they performed four or more days of exercise a week, compared to those who did one or fewer days (25%) .
This sounds promising, but how does exercise boost your immune system?
Regular exercise can help your hippocampus to produce more neurons, while also producing more glial cells too. Your glial cells are the most abundant cell type in your central nervous system, so increasing their number is important for good immunity.
When we train our respiratory rate and depth of breathing will increase. This leads to an increase in oxygen being absorbed into your blood, which in turn helps push more carbon dioxide and bacteria from your system. More oxygen means better circulation and a change in white blood cells production too.
You will also likely experience better sleep quality and less stress when you work out regularly. This is because your body will release feel-good hormones, or endorphins when you exercise.
There is a reason why better sleep and a reduction in stress is important for your immune systems, as both have been shown to lower your immune levels.
Can Too Much Exercise Decrease Your Immunity?
While the benefits of regular exercise are clear, too much intense exercise can have a negative impact on your health, in particular your immune system.
Research has found that performing more than 90 minutes of high-intensity exercise can make you more susceptible to illness for up to 72 minutes after the session .
The reason for this is that during these intense workouts your cortisol and adrenaline levels will be raised. This can raise your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while also suppressing your immune system.
To prevent this you should keep your workouts shorter, and to ensure you include plenty of rest days to recover from these intense sessions.
If you are already ill then a few days off won't cause too much harm, once you are feeling a little better you could try some light or moderate exercise as this could speed up recovery.
You should avoid intense exercise when you are ill as it could cause worsening symptoms and may extend your illness.
Other Methods To Boost Your Immune System
Here are some other proven methods to help boost your immune system:
1. Consume Foods Rich In Antioxidants
There are certain antioxidant-rich foods you should be adding to your diet. Make sure to add the following foods to your weekly shopping list:
- Wild berries
- Dark chocolate
- Pecan nuts
- Kidney beans
- Green tea
- Green vegetables
- Oily fish
Antioxidants are important as they can help to reduce cell death. This helps us to live longer, reduce the signs of ageing, plus can help fight off illness and disease.
When it comes to working out, antioxidants can help with your recovery as they can reduce muscle damage and promote growth after working out .
2. Add More Garlic To Your Diet
Garlic has many health benefits and has been used for hundreds of years to help fight off illness.
Allicin is the key compound of garlic and it has been shown to offer numerous anti-inflammatory benefits. This compound also reacts with sulphur-based compounds, causing an increase in white blood cells production, therefore boosting your immune system.
3. Improve Your Gut Health
Around two-thirds of your body’s entire immune cells are found in your gut so it is important that you take steps to improve your gut health.
Taking a probiotic and eating fermented foods are a good way to enhance your gut health.
4. Get More Sleep
Your sleep is incredibly important as it is when your body re-energises and repairs itself.
A lack of good quality sleep can lead to numerous problems, including a suppressed immune system . This is why it is recommended you aim to get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep every night.
5. Drink More Water
Drinking plenty of water is incredibly important and offer numerous health benefits, including an improved immune system .
Water helps to purify your system and will carry nutrients around your body and help remove any waste products.
6. Try To Reduce Stress
When you are stressed your body will produce more cortisol than normal.
Cortisol is a hormone that can affect the efficiency of the thymus gland, which in turn will lower your immune system.
7. Consider Supplementation
There are various immune-boosting supplements that you can take to improve your immune system:
- Vitamin D is a super vitamin that has been shown to boost your testosterone levels and other anabolic hormones, it can also boost your immune system, insulin sensitivity and ability to burn fat.
- Glutamine levels in your body are depleted by as much as 90% when we train, which can affect your gut health and immune system. It is important that you restore any lost glutamine after a workout to maintain good health and to promote recovery.
- Vitamin C is a common go-to ingredient used to fight off the common cold and flu.
- Zinc is a mineral shown to offer numerous health benefits. It can help boost testosterone and will help support a healthy immune system.
Now that you know how building muscle can improve your immune system, perhaps it is time to get those adjustable dumbbells out of the garage ready to do some home workouts.
It is the perfect time to make a change to your life, a change that will improve your physical appearance, your mental health and your immune system.