Preparing for the Battle: Strategies to Optimize Immune System Functioning

  • Cleanse hands frequently throughout the day, preferably with antibacterial soap and warm water. Alcohol based hand sanitizers will also suffice. For those suffering from dermatological issues, such as dry skin, many antibacterial soaps and alcohol based hand sanitizers are infused with moisturizing solutions.
  • Disinfect equipment and surfaces prior to and following use.
  • Equipment and surfaces which appear to be covered in bodily fluids should also be cleaned and if this is observed at a public or corporate owned facility, specific laws and procedures involving health and safety must be adhered to. As such, staff members should be notified immediately.
  • Those working with the public in a non-essential capacity, such as a personal trainer, should advise customers, or clients, to refrain from meeting with them if they are ill.
  • Avoid touching face, including eyes, nose, mouth, and ears throughout the day and use facial tissues when coughing or sneezing. Soiled facial tissues should be disposed of immediately following use, and if available, soap and/or sanitizer should be used to cleanse the hands or area of the body producing or making contact with bodily fluids.
  • Longer-term Preventative Measures

    1. Individuals should view exercise as a stressor and should adjust their training accordingly, if they are juggling competing demands, both physiologically and psychologically based. Progressions in exercise intensity and volume should be gradual. Those partaking in activities involving endurance training are at an increased risk of respiratory illnesses and should be especially mindful of their volume.
    2. If an individual is not exercising, they should strongly consider commencing an exercise program, as exercise, more broadly, physical activity has been linked to hastening the turnover of illnesses that the body comes in contact with by way of streamlining digestive, urinary, and cooling mechanisms of the body. Long term exercise also boosts the release of antibodies and triggers a greater release of white blood cells from the spleen. Also, the thermogenic environment created by exercise may blunt bacterial growth, similar to a the effects of a fever.

    Immediate Supportive Measures

    1. If stricken with an illness, including a bacteria or virus, it is advisable that medical attention be sought.
    2. Exercise should be avoided if symptoms include: headache, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding
    3. Exercise intensity and volume should be significantly reduced, at least initially, if cold-like symptoms including runny nose, coughing, and profuse sweating are experienced.
    4. Symptomatic individuals should avoid traversing public places or areas populated by many people, if possible.
    5. Since activity is reduced, so should energy intake, especially those containing simple, sugary carbohydrates, which are often utilized to fuel intense, glycolytically dependent exercise.
    6. Consumption of foodstuffs and beverages containing antioxidants, minerals (zinc), and vitamins (B and C), as well Echinacea may support the immune system in fighting off illnesses.