Sleep might be the most important thing to get right when it comes to immunity, as we discussed in the previous article. But there are other important factors that might be a lot easier to improve. Let’s look at a few tips on how to use physical activity, hydration, and stress management to your advantage.
Take a few deep breaths
Research shows that chronic stress can suppress protective immune responses and make pathological immune responses much worse. Short-term acute stress is ok, that can make you stronger, but don’t let it out of control. Physical exercise like cycling helps manage stress. So do meditation, listening to music, petting your dog or cat, spending time outdoors, getting a massage or going to a sauna. If you need to get your stress level under control quickly, you can try an exercise in which you observe your body and breath. We described this in a previous article.
Hydration is key to maintaining a healthy immune system. Make sure to drink enough fluid daily to make your urine pale yellow. Stick to water, unsweetened tea, or soups. Sugary drinks can be a problem for the immune system, but more on that in the next article. As a general guideline, drink when you’re thirsty and stop when you’re no longer thirsty. And remember to drink more when you go cycling or do other intense physical activity.
Don’t stop cycling
Regular moderate exercise can stimulate your immune system. Research shows it reduces inflammation and helps your immune cells regenerate regularly. A shorter intense ride or moderate spinning is ideal. Try to always have a few sessions a week to accumulate at least 150 active minutes. But don’t overdo it with intensity. Long intense exercise has been shown to temporarily suppress the immune system.
Stay in touch with your loved ones
This one might seem to have hardly anything to do with your autumn immunity, but in fact it can be a powerful tool. Maintaining close relationships with people that are important to you is a powerful way to keep chronic stress away. Sharing wins and losses and having someone to talk to and hug is good for your emotional health, and what’s more, research links it to improved physical health outcomes.
Wash your hands
Autumn is a time when infectious diseases are on the rise and the best precaution, apart from having a robust immune system, is washing your hands. You don’t need to be obsessive and overuse hand sanitizers multiple times a day. But washing your hands with soap every time you return home will keep your chances of infection low and maintain your autumn immunity.