The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed health and wellbeing to the forefront of everyone’s mind, whether that involves overcoming obstacles like the closure of gyms, in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, or having the extra time to form some new, healthier habits.
It has been widely reported that individuals who are a healthy body weight and lead an active lifestyle are less likely to suffer more serious Covid symptoms. These factors might also help when it comes to overcoming the debilitating symptoms of long-Covid too.
So, what can you do to power up your immune system?
Well, eating a balanced diet is a good place to start. Spending more time at home and the added stresses the past year have brought, it has been all too easy to turn to comfort eating. Enjoying a balanced diet is key though to ensure your body isn’t deficient in any of the vital nutrients it needs to keep your immune system functioning at its best. This doesn’t mean just popping a few vitamins but really looking at the foods you are eating over the course of the week. Aim for 30 different plant foods per week to take care of your overall gut health, such as fruit, veg, nuts, beans, seeds and whole grains, which are all bursting with health-boosting, dietary fibre.
Complex carbohydrates will provide your body with energy while helping to keep you full for longer, so you are less likely to snack on sugary or fatty foods. To correctly fuel your body and therefore your immune system, you should also make sure you a getting enough lean protein each day, which is the building blocks of all the cells and antibodies which make up your immune system. Base your meals around fish, eggs, chicken or turkey, which are all high in protein, as well as healthy snacks such as nuts and natural yogurt to ensure you reach your protein targets.
As we are out of our usual routines, it’s important to remember to still hydrate. Rather than reaching for another coffee, drinking plenty of water ensures that your body’s natural defence system can work efficiently. Water plays a key part in this as our defence system depends on the nutrients in our blood stream, which is mostly made up of water. Put simply, it we don’t drink enough water our bodies aren’t able to transport important nutrients to our organs. Water also plays an important part in the detoxification process and increasing lymphatic drainage, helping to flush out any foreign invaders and other waste materials.
Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water each day and more if you consume any caffeine or alcohol to meet your daily water needs.
Rest and destress
Unfortunately, psychological stress has been found to have a negative effect on the immune system, something which is hard to avoid given the tragedy and uncertainty this global pandemic has caused. However, taking time out to relax as well as getting plenty of good quality sleep can help you boost your immune system as well as your mental health. Aim to get a least 8 hours sleep a night to feel well rested and ready to face the next day.
Don’t forget the impact that regular exercise can have on your immune system, from aiding recovery to protecting against coughs and colds. Moderate exercise increases our blood flow and rises the number of protective white blood cells circulating in our bodies, to help fight off infection.
The NHS recommends that adults should be physically active every day, and aim to do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, gardening or cycling, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, such as running, fast swimming or a cardio exercise class.
If you are suffering from any long-Covid symptoms or you are new to exercise, aim to do whatever exercise is possible and for however long it is comfortable for. This can be broken up in to shorter stints throughout the day which is still beneficial to your physical and immunity health.
If you are suffering with any symptoms of long-Covid but are looking to return to exercise, here are a few tips to get your fitness back on track at your own pace.
- Pace yourself - plan what you’re going to do that day and don’t over-exert yourself, however frustrated you may feel
- Break up exercise in to smaller chunks throughout the day – alternate between harder and easier exercises
- Work around your energy levels – maybe you feel more energised in a morning? Do what works best for you, even if it means mixing up your usual routine
- Make sure you take a break and rest before you become exhausted
- Don’t avoid doing things that make you a little breathless as you need to rebuild your stamina but listen to your body
- Try to gradually increase the amount of exercise you do each day and build up your strength from there
- Try flexibility exercises such as stretches, yoga and Pilates also light weights and resistance bands are a great way to gradually increase strength
If you are new to exercise or are returning to the gym after recovering from Covid, remember to take things easy and to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regime.
To find out more about the reopening of 1Life centres and our Covid secure procedures, please visit www.1life.co.uk