Eight Things Seniors Can Do to Boost Their Immune System
If the positive energy of this season feels a bit overshadowed by the current news, and you're feeling anxious about colds, flus and other viruses, it's important to remember there are things that are in your control. In fact, we have a list of eight things you can do right now to take charge of your health, boost your immune system, and maintain a lifestyle that has you feeling and looking your best.
1. Stay hydrated. Water is your friend. It's always available and so good for your body. If you want to mix things up a bit, that's good, too. Focus on getting at least eight glasses of fluid a day. Coffee, soup, and tea all count.
2. Eat fresh. Brightly colored fruits and veggies are like nature's vitamins. Foods like avocados, berries, broccoli and kale have even been shown to improve immune system performance. And when you fill your plate with these highly nutritious foods, it's easier to crowd out sugary treats.
3. Get plenty of rest. Your body naturally heals while you sleep. In fact, during this time, your body redistributes the energy that's primarily used for brain and muscle work to your immune system. Special proteins are naturally released and help fight off any infection or inflammation you may have. How much sleep is enough? According to the Mayo Clinic, the optimal amount of sleep for most adults is seven to eight hours each night.
4. Wash your hands. Washing your hands with good old-fashioned soap and water is the most effective way to get rid of germs. While this sounds obvious, many people simply forget or don't wash their hands long enough. It takes at least 20 seconds of washing to properly clean your hands. If you're not close to a sink, hand sanitizers also work well. Just be sure it has at least 60% alcohol.
5. Step outside. Sunshine and fresh air are incredibly beneficial to our health. Getting sensible exposure to sunlight still remains the most effective way to reach your body's daily requirements of vitamin D, which has been shown to help balance our immune system during cold and flu season. According to Dr. Michael Holick at the Boston University Medical Campus, sensible sun exposure includes protecting the most sun-exposed parts of your body such your face and the top of your ears and never spending more than 15 minutes in the sun without sun protection, such as SPF-30 and a protective hat.
6. Get physical. Getting regular exercise, even just as little as 20 minutes, has proven to have anti-inflammatory effects that boost your immune system. It doesn't have to be excessive, either. Walking, dancing, yoga, and even gardening are all great options for some added activity.
7. Get connected. Social connection has been a topic of many recent studies and articles. It has been proven to improve physical health, including our immune system. Social connection also offers many psychological benefits. So, if you ever feeling anxious or bored, maybe call a family member or friend. The phone is a great way to stay connected, no matter what the distance.
8. Keep a positive mindset. Having a healthy outlook on life can actually boost endorphins, which make us feel good. If that means turning off the news for a bit and focusing your mind and energy on a hobby or doing any of the items listed above, then go for it.
Ultimately, you're in charge of your day, and all of us at RLC encourage you to make the most of it!
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