Does cold winter air make you feel like hibernating? Winter months are often referred to as “cold and flu season,” maybe due to more people staying indoors, increasing chances of infection. But you don’t have to give up outdoor exercise just because the weather is colder. Now is the time to be sure you maintain a good exercise routine to help boost your immunity and your mood. Stress, staying indoors, lack of exercise, and poor dietary choices can all contribute to a weaker immune system. To keep the immune system strong and fight off infections, keep up your exercise and remember these 4 tips:
Stress can weaken your immune system, so stress reduction techniques, including exercise and adequate rest, can help your body handle stress. Adaptogen herbs, such as rhodiola and ashwagandha, can balance the stress response in the body, helping to reduce the negative effects of stress.
Dehydration seems to be most common in summer, right? But it occurs in winter too! When you exercise, even in cooler temperatures, you can still sweat and even lose fluids just breathing in cold air, so you still need to keep drinking in water and electrolytes and maintain good fluid balance. Hydration is also critical to have a quicker recovery if you get sick.
Vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc are core nutrients that support immunity. Vitamin C has antiviral properties and supports lung health. Vitamin D plays an important role in strengthening defenses to fight invading viruses and bacteria. During winter months when people are inside more and get less sun exposure, supplementing vitamin D may be helpful. Studies on zinc have shown that this mineral has antiviral properties and can help shorten the duration of a cold. Be careful not to overdo it with zinc as too much zinc can suppress the immune response. Be sure to follow product label dosing recommendations.
We know exercise improves respiratory health, but exercise in cold air can irritate the lungs, so be aware of how your body responds to cold. The bioflavonoid quercetin has anti-inflammatory action, helping to reduce inflammation and support normal lung tissue health. It may play a role in reducing risk of upper respiratory infections. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), a potent antioxidant, can also support lung health. Studies show NAC can help break up and thin lung mucus, improving conditions like bronchitis, allergies, and flu.