Written by Dr. Nir Brosh
these are indeed unusual times, and it seems that we are beginning to adapt to our new circumstances. To help us along the way, I have compiled a few pieces of advice that can help maintain a healthy routine, and — no less importantly — your sense of balance and ‘sanity’ when spending so much of your time between four walls. These tips are science-based and I encourage you to give them a try!
1. Keep on moving
Movement is not just about doing sports, but rather all of those little movements you perform throughout the day. If you find yourself spending more time at home, try to integrate some extra movement into your routine. For example, getting up out of your chair every thirty minutes or so, or finding other ‘excuses’ to move around your space. A healthy goal is approximately 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week (e.g running, walking briskly, cycling, or dancing). Adding resistance training and stretching exercises will create a well-rounded exercise plan that keeps your body strong and happy.
2. Let the sunshine in
Vitamin D is essential not only to our bone health but also to our immunity. The best way to get enough Vitamin D into your system is through exposure to sunlight. Being in the sun for around fifteen minutes per day (with your face, arms, and neck exposed) should ensure that your body can produce a healthy amount of the vitamin. If you cannot get that amount of sunlight, consider taking a supplement (consult your doctor for the right dosage for you).
3. Hobby time!!! (It’s never too late to learn something new!)
While not directly linked to helping your immune system, learning new things might give you a boost in other ways. Acquiring a new skill or learning about a new topic will help your brain to regenerate, keeping your mental and cognitive abilities in good shape. Like aerobic exercise, learning new things is a proven means of strengthening your brain!
4. Maintain your routine
When the usual cycles of our day have been significantly altered, maintaining and constructing a daily routine is a great support. Plan your morning, maybe incorporate a breathing practice or some meditation. Keep your sleeping space tidy and clean, and dress yourself as if you were going to a normal day at work.
5. Sleep well
Getting enough sleep is essential for good immunity. Go to sleep at a reasonable time and avoid the temptation to disrupt your entire sleep cycle by drifting into a night-owl state (i.e. going to bed at 4am). Remember that a good night’s sleep keeps your defence systems alert and in top condition.
6. Cold showers
There are anecdotal findings that including some exposure to the cold in your routine might help strengthen your immunity and sharpen your mental focus. This is very simple: you can either walk outside for a brief interval without extra layers on (although no extremes, please!), or switch to cold water for the last 30-60 seconds of your shower. However, don’t forget to continue breathing normally while doing so, as the chilled water will make you want to hold your breath.
7. Adjust your calorie intake
Our bodies use and emit energy while we are resting or active. The amount needed just for resting is called the Basal Metabolic Rate. When we move less, our BMR is lower, which means we spend less energy, meaning that it might be a good idea to adjust the amount of food we eat accordingly. Try to be mindful of the amount of calories you eat daily if maintaining a balanced body weight is one of your goals.
8. Zinc supplement
Even although we do not yet have a full picture of COVID-19, we do know how similar viruses behave and multiply. It has been found that zinc can hinder the spread of the SARS virus — a close cousin of COVID-19 — in our bodies. You can get zinc quite easily by eating these foods: beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, walnuts, cashew nuts, chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, wholemeal bread, and quinoa. You can also get zinc from a supplement.
9. ‘Eat the rainbow’ or take a multivitamin
Making sure we have adequate vitamin and mineral supplies is essential to strong immunity. You can achieve this through ‘eating the rainbow’ — consuming fruit and vegetables in a wide range of colours daily (try to aim for a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, then build your way up from there if it feels good). If you want to supplement these diet-based allies, you can also consider taking a high-quality organic multivitamin.
10. Call your loved ones on the phone
A sense of belonging and togetherness is an important way to boost immunity. One of the saddest things about this pandemic is that many people are experiencing a state of solitude, especially the elderly. Therefore, this is an especially good time to pick up the phone and call them (or even video call!). By doing so, both their immune system and yours become stronger through the effects of oxytocin, the love hormone. So, call your parents and relatives when you can: both you and them will benefit greatly — physically, mentally, and emotionally.