Exercise is AMAZING for your body. Moving your body helps to support every single system within your body.
Essentially exercise places a stress on the body, asking it to adapt, change and get stronger to meet the demands that you are asking of it. This is what gets you stronger. Just like after having a big training session, your muscles can be a little sore as they adapt to the training, your immune system can also be a little low post training, particularly after very intense or long sessions.
Whether you are a serious competitor or just love to train, here are some great ways to support your immune system, to keep you training!
Fuel Your body Post Workout
Eat both quality carbohydrates and protein within 60 minutes of finishing your training.
Many of us know the importance of protein to help muscles recover post workout, however, to improve performance and support your immune system, it is important to add both quality carbohydrates and proteins to your post workout meal or snack. This helps to dampen your bodies stress response, supporting your immune system.
If your training isn't close to a mealtime, prepare a quick snack to take with you. This can be as simple as a protein shake or high protein yogurt with the addition of a banana.
Prioritise fuelling your body well DURING any sessions longer than 90 minutes
Low energy availability, which is led by prolonged output in training, with not enough energy through food will leave your immune system compromised and can hinder your performance. It is important to take snacks or fuel with you at your sessions and prioritise re-fulling with quality foods within 60-90 minutes post session.
Inadequate recovery between your sessions (or events) will increase stress on your body and reduce your immune system. Schedule easy days and rest days into your programming. This could mean bringing in some easy jogs / walks / swimming or even yoga into your schedule. This will not only support your immune system, but your performance.
Early morning training sessions have us up at all hours, ensure that you are getting to bed early to maximise your sleep. Sleep deprivation can have a severe effect on your immune system.
Vitamin D is a powerful immune support. Long sessions in the dark before dawn, working in offices during the day, and not enough time outside all reduce our time spent in the sun. Nature is a powerful healer. Try and get yourself out into the sunshine with as much skin exposed as possible (outside the hottest times of the day) for at least 20 minutes every day.
Long periods of stress or just NOT ENOUGH FUN can be a disaster for our immune system. We can't take away all the stressors in our life, but we can manage them better by implementing more fun. Whilst we are experiencing joy, it is impossible to feel stressed. This can help us to manage whatever life throws at us a whole lot better!
Boost your Nutrition!
Focus on a diet that has a variety of different fruits and vegetables. Remember the saying Eat a Rainbow? The nutrient density of these foods will help to build your immune system.
Increase foods that are rich in Vitamin C. It sounds too simple to be true right? Great sources are foods like capsicum, broccoli, kiwifruit and other citrus fruits.
Increase foods that are high in Zinc. This mineral is essential to support our immune system. It is also essential for growth and repair, which supports fitness and strength gains. Great sources include pumpkin seeds (pepitas), oysters, shellfish, cashews, eggs, lentils and natural peanut butter.
Eat Raw Garlic. Garlic is a powerful anti-viral and bacterial herb. You definitely don't need to do this every day, however including this into your diet can be a powerful way to protect your body. Try making your own fresh hummus with raw garlic and consuming daily or every other day.
Wash your hands and training equipment
Proper hand washing and hygiene has been shown to reduce the spread of viruses by up to 70%. That is a big number!
Favour washing your hands with soap and water, over constant use of hand sanitisers, as these can disrupt the skin microbiome.
In a gym environment, always bring your own sweat towel and wipe down machines or equipment before and after use. Wash your hands after your workout.