October 12, 2020

Boost Your Immunity with Exercise

General Health

Welcome to Week 3 of our Rock the Walk 2020 Challenge! We’re all about boosting your immunity during this year’s challenge. For this third week of our wellness challenge, we’re focusing on EXERCISE. Can you believe we’re already approaching the halfway mark? Sometimes I wonder how it is possible that time is moving so quickly…

Alright, let’s get into the nitty gritty of what we’re talking about this week in this blog—exercise, and how it relates to immune boosting. For those of you who have read my blogs before, know I am pretty…excitable…about exercise. There’s so many awesome things that happen to your body when you exercise, and I feel like I need to shout it from the top of a mountain…err… ‘scream’ it through this blog.

You’ve likely heard from your Primary Care Provider, your spouse, my blogs (is this my shot at becoming famous?!) or through social media that exercise is important—this is nothing new. You likely know the “big” ways that exercise helps—it helps with weight loss/weight maintenance, it helps your heart, it helps you clear your mind, it helps you burn off energy so your husband has a moment to get a word in (or is that just my house?)—LOTS of ways.

Some of the lesser-known or recognized ways that exercise helps you is:

  • It can help improve your mood/positivity
  • It can help your brain and cognition
  • It can help self-esteem/confidence
  • It can help you sleep/your sleep hygiene
  • It gives you energy
  • It helps with your immune system and preventing illness…and that what we are focusing on with the 2020 edition of Rock the Walk.

Now, especially with the COVID-19 Pandemic, it’s important to make sure you are making your health a priority, and doing everything you can to boost your immune system to prevent viruses and other illnesses and you’re in luck—exercise does just that. In an article from March 2020 from the University of Bath, various research studies are noted that cite exercise as “help[ing] the immune system [to] find and deal with pathogens, and in the long term, regular exercise slows down the changes that happen to the immune system with aging , therefore reducing the risk of infections”. Remember too, while the actual act of getting-out-and-moving exercise helps us directly, it also helps in so many other ways that can also help to boost your immunity—such as helping with stress/anxiety/depression, keeping weight in check, sleep hygiene, and overall positivity-win, win!

Now, because I know you’re all thinking “oh my gosh, this blog has already changed my life and I need to exercise right NOW,” I wanted to spend time giving some ideas and suggestions for exercise during the pandemic and while being safe and practicing physical distancing, and also to make a plan for the fall and winter months, as the weather begins to turn in Wisconsin. Here we go!

Here are a few ideas and suggestions for keeping active while at home and physically distancing:

Getting Outside

Fall is an AWESOME time in Wisconsin to spend time in nature, and it gives you a safer opportunity to exercise during the pandemic. Remember to physically distance and wear a mask if you will be having close contact with other people.

  • Hiking/biking/running/walking. Check out the great hiking, biking, and walking paths right in our own backyards. Plus, bonus—fall foliage! If you have a dog, this is a great excuse to get out for a few extra walks with your pooch and you both getting a couple extra outdoor exercise minutes.
  • Yardwork. Ah yes, fall yardwork—it’s never-ending! Remember though, spending time in nature can help rejuvenate you, keep you moving, and help create a sense of accomplishment. (and if you’re me…lots of blisters from raking!)

Virtual Workouts

During this pandemic, we’ve all embraced the virtual world—whether it’s through Zoom chats with friends/family, or virtual schooling, I think it’s here to stay! Virtual workouts give you an opportunity to stay fit while exercising in your pjs at home!

  • Streaming Workouts. Sites such as YouTube, Facebook/Instagram Live, Peloton, BeachBody, and many other platforms are offering an abundance of great workouts (some are free!) that can be done anywhere!
  • Many gyms/groups are offering virtual fitness classes with the instructors you know and love—check out if yours offers these!
  • Apps. Many fitness apps give you the opportunity to do workouts right from your phone, and you can pick and choose different ‘challenges’ and other ways to keep you motivated. I have a Fitbit and I have different challenges I can pick and choose to do daily or weekly!

Creativity at Home/Work

Home is where the heart is…err…where we have spent A LOT of time over the last 6 months with Coronavirus. Check out these different suggestions to keep movin’ and groovin’ during the fall months:

  • Dust off old equipment. Have a treadmill or bike in the basement collecting dust and acting as a clothesline? Time to dust it off and use it! The same goes for dumbbells, steppers, bands, old workout DVDs, etc. Hey, they work!
  • Squeeze in exercise. We need to keep creative during these times! During your favorite tv show, march in place during commercials or set a timer for every 30 minutes during your Netflix binge to get up and do some movement. While waiting for food to heat in the microwave, can you do some counter pushups or squats? If you have time in the morning or evening, sneak in a quick walk or strength session—it all adds up. If doing 20 minutes of exercise in a day seems overwhelming, start slow and break it up into 5 or 10 minute chunks—some is better than none!
  • Social. Just because you’re physically distancing does not mean you have to socially distance. While talking on the phone with a friend, can you pace your house or take a walk? Can you set up a Zoom or Skype call and do a workout with a group from your homes? Set up accountability with a friend or family member during this time to keep you both on track—check in with one another, and work towards your goals together.
  • Have FUN. This year has certainly had it many, many downfalls, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sprinkle in some fun. Have FUN with incorporating exercise, and it won’t feel like a chore—is this playing in your yard or a pickup game of basketball? Is this having a dance party in your PJs? Is this doing a Zumba class with your neighbors across the street in your driveways? (True story—ALMOST did with my neighbor, and we never got to it) or maybe it’s a walk on a new hiking path—whatever it is, make TIME for fun!

Exercise has always had its place of importance with health, but more than ever…it should be moving to a priority in your life, and by signing up for this challenge, I believe you’re already thinking that way! Remember to focus less on perfection and more on the progress with everything going on, and to ultimately find that time for you.