Exercise, especially when it takes place outside in the sun and with the fresh air of the great outdoors, is one of the best ways to boost your health for a stronger immune system. Vitamin D deficiency is well-known to increase susceptibility to respiratory diseases, so as summer rapidly approaches, make the most of this opportunity to lap up those Vitamin D-infused sun rays and strengthen optimise your health and immune responses. The list of benefits gained through moving your body are far too long to list. Here are just a few; reduced risk of major illness by optimising your health and immunity, improved mental health, improved sleep quality and greater energy levels.
Despite what all of those exercise junkies in your office might have you think, just 30 to 60 minutes a day is all that you need to reap the benefits of exercise on your immune function and aligns perfectly with UK Government guidelines permitting an hour of exercise a day.
Experts actually caution against doing 75 minutes or more of hard, intensive exercise as this is regarded as excessive, with a well-documented immunosuppressive effect (that is, reduced immune system strength). In fact, a lot of research has been conducted on the link between athletes and the reduced immune function their intensive training programme gives rise to, which explains why they are more prone to upper respiratory tract infections than the average person.
Once again. There is no silver bullet here. Balance, positive action and consistency are the key to optimising your health and immune system. Ready to take up the challenge? Beyond going for a run or a jog, here are the top 4 ways to optimise your health and immune system through exercise. There’s something for everyone, regardless of your age or ability!
Brisk Walking – Make those daily walks work harder
For those taking their tentative first steps towards physical fitness, or who suffer from conditions which prevent high-intensity cardio exercise, brisk walking is a happy medium between avoiding a highly-intensive workout, but still deriving massive benefit from exercise. Around 3.5 minutes of walking is equivalent to 1 minute of intensive exercise. All you need are trainers and a positive attitude. No gyms, expensive equipment or athletic prowess required. Boom! Lets get started I here you scream…
Don’t be lazy! It’s easy to bimble when walking which is perfect on your rest day. If you goal is to optimise health then be conscious about the pace you are keeping. Short and brisk strides will increase the number of strides you take per minutes which has been shown to improve overall health, insulin levels and waist circumference.
Technique is also important. Head up. Shoulders back and stomach in. Heel first rolling towards toe. Ditch the model walk too. Hips should be driving forward not side to side. You can save the sexy walk for your rest day 😉
Perhaps the most time effect way to exercise. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is characterised by a staggered approach to exercise, requiring short but intensive bursts of exercise followed by low intensity recovery periods. This approach to exercise keeps it exciting and keeps you motivated to keep going. Basically, you get massive health gains in less time. Yes! It has shown to provide the health benefits of twice the amount delivered through moderate exercise. Sign me up!
So where to start… It depends what your preferred exercise is. If you are a cyclist, walker or runner it is the same. Simply go to your limits for 30 seconds followed by 2 minutes of steady low intensity. Then repeat 8 times. Don’t cheat your either. Go hard. If you can go harder in those 30 seconds you’re not doing it right! Quick tip: There are some great apps around which act as a Hiit timer. You set the timers or choose from a workout and it’ll sound an alarm over your music so you know when to go and when to bring it back. This is for everyone too. All abilities so no excuses.
Cycling. I love it! The benefits of cycling on your health are almost as endless as the lanes you have available to explore. There are more than just health benefits too; You can explore further afield, its a low impact activity, you can go as hard as you want and it’s great for families!
Beginner tips for cycling:
- Wear a helmet. No excuses.
- Ditch the headphones. Stay Safe.
- Choose quiet roads and take it easy. Enjoy the scenery.
- Get a decent saddle. If it isn’t comfortable you won’t want to get back on!
- Use your gears. When you feel your legs going slower. Change the gear down and keep the cadence consistent.
- Learn how to change/ fix a puncture. You’ll be pleased you did!
- Road confidence. Ride about 1M away from the curb to give you room to avoid drains and pot-holes.
Given how quiet the roads are it is a perfect time to really build your cycling confidence!
Training tips to boost your cycling performance:
- Use Hiit training on 1-2 training rides per week. See point 2 above!
- Time in the saddle always counts – short, long, slow or fast. Get out and ride.
- Nutrition for rides – water under an hour, Carbs up to 3 hours, and a carb/ protein combination over 3 hours. Our raw superfood energy bars are perfect for your longer rides 😊
- Learn to love hills! Simple.
- Surrounded by flat roads? Ride high gears.
Swimming – Wild
Swimming pools are closed and the water temperature is finally warming. A little bit. Okay, not a huge amount just yet but what a perfect time to start cold water swims! Hailed as a tonic of life. Plenty of studies have demonstrated a link between swimming and an immune system that is more resilient to upper respiratory tract infections. Combine that with a reduction in inflammation, cold water swimming is a great full-body workout with significant health benefits.
Start with just 1 minute of immersion and work your way up! You’ll feel amazing from the first time you jump in. A cautionary note; please stay safe and avoid strong tidal water.
The above recommendations carried out for up to an hour has been shown to optimise both health and immunity because it releases more of the immune cells which play a defensive role in the body. So what are you waiting for? Get on it!
Now for the dull bit. Please seek medical advice and do your own research before undertaking any major change in lifestyle.