If 2020 has taught us all anything, it's to be prepared for the unexpected. It reminds me just how fragile we can be when faced with threats to our immune system. Now, this isn't anything all that new despite the pandemic we are facing.
In fact, it's kind of baffling that there isn't more open discussion about preparing your body for anything that might make you ill. We see a normal cycle of colds, flu, and other ailments that tend to spread seasonally. However, we rarely hear much more than that old advice to "get some Vitamin C."
While vitamin C can certainly be great, I have a secret for you. Are you ready?
The same habits that make you generally healthy and fit are the same habits that help you resist sicknesses. And if you have the opportunity to build up some internal health insurance, why wouldn't you?!
Nobody wants to feel crappy or have to put your life on hold for several days. Now, you may not be able to safeguard yourself from all illnesses, but a strong immune system will at least minimize the severity if you catch something.
Here are some simple things you can do to keep yourself healthy year-round, especially if you find yourself getting sick multiple times per year. I'm not a doctor and this isn't medical advice (but honestly I haven't been sick in at least 10 years).
Drink lots of water and replenish with electrolytes. Our rule of thumb on how much water to drink is to take your bodyweight (lbs) and drink that many ounces of water daily. If you way 200lbs, drink 200 oz. You can add in some liquid or powder electrolytes as well (especially if you're active and sweating).
Take a multivitamin. They're cheap and accessible! It's the least you can do and it will provide a basis of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function well. Personally, I add in others like Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin D (very important).
SLEEP. You aren't a hero for staying up late and getting up early. Let your body recover with at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. If you workout really hard or have a labor intensive job...sleep even more.
Exercise! There are a number of responses going on in your body during and after exercise that contribute to building up your immune system. Getting 3-4 days of moderate to hard exercise per week can do wonders for you. Even better if you can incorporate resistance work (you know, lifting weights)!
Get outside. Spend some time out in the sun and be exposed to natural air. It's another chance to get some of that crucial Vitamin D.
Eat your protein and vegetables. Getting lots of whole foods and avoiding the sugary and/or highly processed stuff goes a LONG way in your health. This one should be obvious, but not enough of us actually do it.
Minimize alcohol consumption. Consuming alcohol is like opening a window for illness to sneak in. Your body gets busy trying to get the alcohol out of your system, distracting it from the other tasks if needs to keep up with.
Prevention of sickness may not be flashy, but you'll be glad you created better habits when you're using that paid time off for fun and not due to being sick!
Taylor Race, owner of Elevate St. Pete