© PATH DOC/SHUTTERSTOCK
By Barbara Bronson Gray
WHEN EMBARKING ON a
;tness program, it is important
to approach the new regimen in
a way that minimizes any compromises to your immune system. Getting sick could quickly
sideline you, reducing the chances of success.
;at’s why experts suggest that learning
how to boost your immunity and maximize
your health should be part of your (and
everyone’s) health and ;tness plan.
“If we look at everything from ;ghting
colds and ;u to combating chronic illness, it
begins with the in;ammatory process,” says
Suzanne Steinbaum, D.O., a cardiologist at
the Lenox Hill Heart and Vascular Institute at
Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City. “When
we minimize in;ammation, the body is able
to work as best it can to ;ght o; infection and
Some degree of in;ammation is natural,
part of a complex response to harmful agents,
such as germs, damaged cells or irritants. It’s
designed to repair cell injury and speed heal-
ing. But when there’s too much cellular
in;ammation, your natural army of infection
fighters has trouble focusing, flying off in
Steinbaum says aspects of an unhealthy
lifestyle—such as not enough exercise, poor
and releasing it over a count of six,”
Steinbaum suggests. “Do that
three times in a row. It stops the
stress response and physiologically
forces your body to dilate arteries
and slow down your heart rate. It’s
quick. Do it regularly.” Practicing
meditation or yoga may have a
Steinbaum also strongly recommends
just laughing: “Watch comedy shows or a
funny movie.” Whatever approaches you try,
reducing your stress level will have a lasting
e;ect on your physiology.
Exercise. Exercise is more powerful than
any medication, reducing in;ammation and
lowering stress hormones. Find a way to realistically fit exercise into your routine. Do
something you love, and mix it up a little:
Walk one day, cycle the next, go skiing over
the weekend. Finding a buddy to go with you
may help keep you on track. If you don’t like
what you’re doing, you’ll stop exercising.
Talk with your doctor about exercise.
;is applies not only to people just starting a
;tness program, but also to the super-athletic
who may actually be exercising too much.
“Sometimes more isn’t better,” Steinbaum
says. Heavy, long-term exercise such as
intense gym training or marathon running
can actually increase the presence of stress-related hormones and decrease the number of
infection-;ghting white blood cells.
Rest. Get about seven to nine hours of
sleep. “More than nine or fewer than six hours
a night increases your risk of getting cardiovascular disease,” says Steinbaum.
Focusing on nutrition, stress reduction,
exercise and rest should improve your
immunity and give you the health and
energy you need to stick to a fun and fruitful
;tness program. C
Registered nurse Barbara Bronson Gray
( firstname.lastname@example.org, @bbgrayrn)
specializes in topics related to health.
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find a variety of foods,
dietary supplements and other products to
help them with sleep, diet, stress reduction
and exercise at Costco and/or Costco.com.
nutrition or lack of sleep—can hike your level
of in;ammation, raising your risk for infection and chronic health problems.
Everyday stress contributes to the problem by releasing the hormone cortisol. When
cortisol is depleted, your natural immune
response becomes less e;ective.
;ere are four concrete ways to minimize
in;ammation and build immunity.
Nutrition. Fuel your body with foods that
build immunity, suggests Costco member
Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a licensed dietitian
and exercise physiologist in private practice in
Cleveland. “Color your plate, making it as
bright and bold as possible,” she says. “Just
one red pepper provides 260 percent of your
required vitamin C, [and is] a great addition
to a stir-fry or even a taco.”
Avoid foods high in saturated fats, trans
fats and sugars, as they all increase your body’s
inflammatory response. Make your diet 50
percent fruits and vegetables, 25 percent grains
and 25 percent lean protein from foods like
lean meats and low-fat dairy (such as yogurt
with live and active cultures).
Stress reduction. To better manage your
stress, Steinbaum recommends learning to
put problems and hassles in perspective. You
can’t let everything be stressful, she warns.
Stuck in tra;c? Listen to music and accept
the fact that there’s nothing you can do.
Learning how to breathe slowly and
thoughtfully can help relieve anxiety and tension. “Take a series of breaths through your
nose, holding your breath for a count of four
Four easy steps to
boost your immunity
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