In an era where we’re all concerned about our ability to fight off diseases, most of us are thinking a little harder about our immune function. In much of the world, particularly the US, COVID-19 is a serious health concern. One influential model even predicts a serious uptick in deaths before the end of the year. As such, as keen as we all are to get back to our normal way of life (or as close to it as possible) we all need to think about how our persona;l habits could impact our immune function.
While viral load, age and other factors all play a part, a healthy immune system can mean all the difference between being sick for a few days and ending up in a hospital if you catch COVID-19. With that in mind, here are some lifestyle habits that could, unbeknownst to you, actually weaken your immune system at a time when it needs to be firing on all cylinders…
Overdoing it at the gym
We all know that regular exercise is a great way to keep the immune system fully functional. But there’s a difference between working out 3 or 4 times a week at Fitness 19 or your local equivalent, and overdoing it. When you regularly subject your body to strenuous exercise (e.g. long distance running) without giving your body time to receiver could impair immune function. As such, it’s important to combine your rigorous workouts with gentler forms of exercise, especially outdoor family pursuits.
Spending all day seated
Sitting has, in certain circles, been referred to as “the new smoking” for some time now. When we spend all day seated we put a lot of pressure on our internal organs. Especially if we’re also leaning forward to peer at a screen. At a time when many of us are working from home, we must be wary of letting our lifestyles become too sedentary. Inactivity leads to a range of health risks, weakening our immune systems and making us more vulnerable to a range of chronic illnesses including heart disease and diabetes.
Leading an insular life
The lockdown has been tough for many of us. Especially extroverts who love to be around other people. However, even if you’re more introverted by nature, it’s important to lead as much of a social life as possible. Loneliness has been proven by a 2015 study to be detrimental to immune function. This is because loneliness is often accompanied by anxiety which can lead to more oxidative / free radical damage to cells, suppressing the immune system.
Over-indulging on comfort foods
Finally, in times of crisis, many of us find solace in food. And while the odd indulgence or “cheat meal” can actually be good for us, over-indulging on processed sugary, fatty and salty comfort foods can be disastrous for our immune systems. Those who eat plenty of fresh veggies and fruits, on the other hand get a daily dose of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which can support immune function, fight inflammation and keep a range of chronic diseases at bay.