I’ve stumbled upon something. Something that made me consider/reconsider how much, how hard and how regularly I exercise. Last August I started on a 6-7 days a week exercise plan. Monday-Sunday as consistently as possible. 6 months later not only did my body see big changes but so did my immunity – in a way I never considered it would.
Every fall I tend to get a little sick. Nothing major but maybe a cold, or mild flu for a couple of days. I haven’t taken antibiotics in about a decade so that’s a good thing but having 2 young kids in the house there are always viruses floating around when the weather is cooler. And obviously when one of them gets sick who do they sneeze and cough all over? Mommy!
This year has been particularly bad. And I’m not just saying in this house but in the entire country. Hospitals are packed to the rim with flu patients. People are getting sick left and right and illnesses are lasting for weeks not just days. Both my kids and husband have gone through at least one bad viral bug. Fever, nausea, vomiting…. and yet somehow between exposure to them and the consistent pre/grade-school environment (as I’m at school working on things several days a week) I have avoided getting even the slightest of sniffles.
And while I attribute a lot of this general health to eating tons of greens, fresh fruits and veggies, whole protein sources like beans and lentils, and sleeping soundly, it doesn’t tell the whole story… because I can tell you, without a doubt, that it seems my immunity has become rock solid now with the combination of whole, unprocessed, fresh plant foods, beauty sleep AND regular consistent exercise.
So when I realized this massive change I felt like I needed to tell you!… The theory is that physical activity helps flush bacteria out of your lungs and airways and also boosts your antibodies and white blood cells which are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. Exercise can literally change your insides so they build up a vault around you to protect you from the outside. BUT the key is knowing how much and how often to exercise to achieve this effect… I think this will vary a bit for everyone, depending on your overall health, weight and ability as well as your own unique body. However, I will tell you exactly what I have been doing to keep uber healthy.
In a nutshell, this lifestyle consists of 3 days of resistance training (using body weight as well as dumbbells) and 3 days of steady state lower intensity cardio with maybe a HIIT (high intensity interval training) session or two substituted in whenever I fancy for about 30-45 minutes daily. What does that look like really? Well to be more specific resistance sessions consist of things like burpees, jumps, squats, weighted lunges, pushups, commandoes, jumprope and all kinds of ab work. Steady state low intensity cardio is walking or biking and Sundays usually consist of a yoga session with the hubby. HIIT for me is interval training on the treadmill and I only do this on days I really have the energy to burn though a highly intense workout. If it doesn’t happen, no biggie.
It’s the combination of consistent strength training and cardio that really boosts your immunity. Doing just one or the other won’t get you the same vault of immunity. And what’s so great about this lifestyle is that I know every day is different and so 6 months later I still haven’t board of the variety. I know the thought of working out 6 or 7 days a week can seem like a lot to some of you, but trust me when you start to do it regularly it just becomes part of the routine and low intensity days are so nice because you can just turn on some tunes and stroll for 30.
The key I’ve learned is not to exercise to exhaustion regularly. You need to have low intensity but still steady movement days regularly. Days where you take your sweatshirt off because you built up a bit of heat in your body – yet a drop of perspiration hasn’t left your forehead. You know what I mean. Days where you can chat the entire time you are moving and not feel like your spent a lot of your energy. This is really the key. This combined with strength and cardio is what clears your system and boosts your blood cells capacity to fight off illness.
So, take home point: To vault your immunity, move every single day with regularity and kick in the cardio and strength with some frequency. Have fun and enjoy your workouts. Keep it varied and light and easy to do whenever you travel or leave the comforts of your home. And most of all, do it consistently.
Here’s to building your vault of immunity!