Power up your immune system for travel preempts a lot of future problems and discomfort.
Coronavirus is here, it’s real, and it’s on everyone’s mind.
The virus is at least a risk, if not a threat to your health, especially if you’re traveling.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 7 ways to power up your immune system for travel.
We’ll explain how you will become a hero at the end.
1. Exercise, Move and Workout
Without a doubt, establishing and maintaining consistent physical training helps ward off illness and pathogens.
D’uh. Right? There’s a lot of truth to the adverse affects of transitioning from an active farming lifestyle to becoming desk jockeys over the last couple hundred years.
Much of the world has gone from fit, lean, mean, fighting machine to jiggly, wiggly, weak blob.
In fact, according to James Turner, a professor of health science at the University of Bath “there is no or limited reliable evidence for exercise directly increasing the chance of developing any kind of viral infection.” He also co-authored the 2018 review about exercise and immunity.
Power Up Immune System for Travel Secret
Here’s the secret super power of exercise in relation to your immune system: macrophage deployment. A macrophage is “a large phagocytic cell found in stationary form in the tissues or as a mobile white blood cell, especially at sites of infection.”
Your white blood cells, or infection fighters, disperse throughout your body after exercise. They decentralize from your circulatory system to address threats in your organs and tissues.
From the Journal of Sport and Health Science:
“Acute exercise (moderate-to-vigorous intensity, less than 60 min) is now viewed as an important immune system adjuvant to stimulate the ongoing exchange of distinct and highly active immune cell subtypes between the circulation and tissues.”
There are a few exceptions to the benefits of regular exercise to your immune system however.
Strenuous bouts of exercise may be one such caveat.
Some studies have shown that a period of high intensity training (like a Crossfit workout or marathon maybe) may make you temporarily susceptible to sickness.
The workout intensity drops your immune system’s strength for a short period of time, letting in pathogens. This is known as the “open window” theory.
However, conflicting studies have shown a prompt recovery by the immune system after intense training without leading to sickness. Thus no ill effects, pun intended.
So the jury is out on how healthy it is to run a marathon and not get sick. Speaking of marathons…
Your exercise regimen is only as safe as the environment.
Running a marathon is great, until you linger in a crowd of people who can get you sick.
Avoiding crowds during a viral outbreak lowers your exposure.
This then begs the question, “is it safe to go to my gym?”
Unless it’s in a bio-containment unit or hermetically sealed, then probably not.
This article right here sums up the situation quite nicely.
One of the biggest risks (which we’ll discuss more later) is touching your face.
Think you can go to your gym and not put a finger to a mucous membrane on your face? Your mucous membranes are the viral entry points.
Also, you shouldn’t trust any gym to be wiping down their equipment. You will have to wipe it down yourself before and after every use.
You can maybe wear weightlifting gloves, but many of them don’t have fingertips. So, you can still touch your face.
Again, you’re also in a confined area. You can still be in close contact with other people.
Consider going to the gym during off-peak hours. Also, if you live in a hot zone, and where the virus has spread, maybe don’t go to the gym at all.
You might just be better off working out in your home gym or heading out to the parks, woods, green belts and forest preserves.
Don’t Go Rocky Overnight
The New York Times article above also mentions the risk of sedentary people going Rocky Balboa overnight.
Studies have shown that people who previously maintained a moderate exercise regimen for weeks prior to getting sick, fared better than people who suddenly dove into intense training.
Going gung-ho may actually weaken your immune system response.
If you aren’t physically active, and want to start, ease into it. You can simply start by doing some walking.
If you already train, whatever you do, do NOT stop.
In turn, take good care of yourself in all ways possible, which does include rest.
2. Do Not Compromise Quality Sleep
Look, everyone, and we mean everyone, should know this by now.
Thousands of articles have been written about it.
Just do it.
Get 8 hours of sleep a night.
Your body repairs, rejuvenates and recuperates during sleep.
If you weight train, this is when your muscles actively recover and grow for example.
Think of sleep like bringing in your car to the mechanic for repairs.
You don’t keep driving around with a check engine light on and smoke coming out from under the hood, do you?
No you don’t.
Sleep allows for a stout and vital immune system.
There’s no need to martyr yourself and be proud of the fact that you run yourself into the ground every day on 5 hours of sleep.
Consequently, you know what leads to quality sleep…?
3. Managing Stress Well
Again, much like the subject of sleep, stress has received that much attention, if not more.
Sticking with the car metaphor, stress is like not changing your oil. Running dirty oil through your engine makes for poor performance. Poor performance can lead to failure and worse yet, an accident.
In a worst case scenario, you can even seize up the engine, if it runs too low.
Stress functions as a gateway to bigger physiological problems and complications, especially a weakened immune system.
Do make sure to practice a quality self-care program that suits you.
We have so many methodologies to de-stress nowadays there’s no excuse.
Consider some of these ways to manage your stress: journaling, meditation, breath work, floating/sensory deprivation tanks, walks alone in nature, yoga/tai chi/etc., and baths with Epsom salt or essential oils.
Whatever you prefer to do, find an activity that enables you to chill out, relax and decompress.
The mind and body are inextricably linked, so the health of one, is the health of the other.
Which leads us to what’s in your body…
4. Eat and Drink Right
Much like regular, day-to-day life, your travel nutrition is just more of the same.
One more time, like sleep and stress, the subject of eating right has been covered to infinity and back.
We hesitate to say “eat this, and eat that” because everyone’s physiology and nutritional needs are different.
However, following the dreadful and bland advice of your doctor is best to power up your immune system for travel.
Focus on eating nutrient rich foods, healthy fats, quality proteins and those infamous, leafy, dark greens.
This next one is tricky, especially while traveling through airports, as they’re healthy food deserts at times.
Do your best to avoid processed foods and sugars. They both dent your immune system.
Also stay mindful of your hydration and drink lots of water.
Your body gets dehydrated faster when you travel.
Always keep a water bottle at hand and drink more than you think you need.
Finally, adding some holistic approaches in terms of food and supplements may boost your immune defense.
There’s a lot of talk about things like probiotics/fermented foods (kombucha anyone?), bone broth and oregano oil.
Be careful with holistic solutions. During a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Michael Osterholm, the director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Diseases, Policy and Research, debunked the efficacy of probiotics to fight coronavirus.
Adding a vitamin C and/or vitamin D supplement to your diet has also become a hot topic.
Be careful with vitamin supplements as well. This Washington Times article shows how most vitamins don’t magically boost your immune system.
Vitamin C has been long heralded as an immune system booster, but probably doesn’t work as well as you might think.
Due to increasing research showing the same for vitamin D, it has become trendy too.
In this case, there’s more truth to the benefit of vitamin D. However, not how you may think.
There’s more risk to your immune system, not having sufficient vitamin D.
Taking 1,000 extra milligrams a day doesn’t make you invincible. Still, make sure that you aren’t deficient in vitamin D.
Spending time in the sun stimulates vitamin D production in your body.
Which circles back to managing your stress and spending time outside in nature. Kill 2 birds with 1 stone; de-stress and ramp up your vitamin D production.
Be sure to wash your hands when you get back home.
5. Practice Proper Hygiene
Please wash your hands.
Wash Your Hands.
WASH YOUR HANDS.
This can’t be repeated enough.
Washing your hands is the #1 way to prevent yourself from getting sick.
Make sure to use soap and warm water, while scrubbing, getting under your fingernails and getting up your wrists a bit too.
Also, get face-to-face with how to power up immune system for travel.
Time to Do an About Face
We get sick when we touch our face and germs come into contact with our mucous membranes: eyes, mouth, and nose.
Take a guess, how many times a day we touch our face. Check that.
Guess how many times an hour we touch our face.
23 times an hour we touch our face.
In between washing hands, use hand sanitizer.
In turn, if we touch our face 23 times an hour, imagine how many times an hour we touch our phones!
Our phones are infamously dirty and germy, so it’s a wise idea to use a disinfectant wipe to give your phone a wipe down now and then.
Lastly, don’t be that inconsiderate jerk who coughs and sneezes everywhere without covering up.
Cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough. Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.
Throw the tissue away immediately.
Alternatively, pull out your shirt from your neck, and cover your face with that, while coughing and sneezing if need be.
You can also cough and sneeze into your elbow.
All a virus needs is a small droplet of liquid to travel a long distance. If you’ve ever learned about sneezing, it’s like a cannon for germs.
A virus can easily travel 5 to 10 feet in the air. The regular flu can travel 6 feet through the air.
And if you do see someone not covering up while coughing and sneezing, it’s totally within your right to be politely assertive during an outbreak, and ask them to cover up.
Otherwise, give them a wide berth and stay far away from them.
6. Get into the Social Distancing Act
We want social media posts to go viral.
Well now we want to distance ourselves from a virus.
Seems like some rich irony there.
You’re going to start hearing the “social distancing” phrase more and more.
It’s not a complex concept and means exactly what it sounds like.
Do your best to distance yourselves from people.
Don’t be so quick to hug people, shake hands, high 5 each other or kiss.
I know, it sucks. This is how we communicate, show affection, enthusiasm and our love.
However, we’re already coming up with new and creative ways to make up for the temporary prohibition.
People are now elbow tapping instead of shaking hands.
Others have taken to tapping toes together.
Get creative people. I feel a whole bunch of memes coming on.
And if all else fails…
7. Don’t Travel!
Traveling will greatly increase your risk of exposure, from germ ridden steel tubes flying through the sky, to airports ripe with only god knows what.
Who knows if the cruise industry will ever recover.
Really, the only riskier place to get exposed would be in a nursing home, hospital or emergency responder situation.
For now, some countries are just letting people stroll back in through airports, who just returned from hot zones.
No testing. No quarantines.
This means planes and airports will be viral transmission hubs.
This also may extend to public transportation, like buses and subway systems.
Be informed, be aware and stop the scare.
How do you do that?
Be Proactive and Be a Hero
The coronavirus will challenge all of us individually, our communities and the country as a whole.
The adversity will highlight features of our society that become a great vulnerability.
Think about the lack of paid sick leave for many employees, and our absolute willingness to go into work sick.
Now combine that with the fact that coronavirus incubation period is somewhere between 14 and 21 days.
This means it will take 2 to 3 weeks to show symptoms. Or if you’re lucky, some people are carriers and asymptomatic, meaning they never get sick.
This means you can be walking around and going to work sick, spreading the virus and not even know it.
Also, because the symptoms are similar to the regular flu, people may mistake coronavirus for the flu.
Ironically, we pride ourselves on our work ethic and going into work sick, so we can be that hero.
Now, it’s more important than ever, that we do NOT do that. And we can be an even bigger hero by doing so and not risking the health of our communities.
It looks unlikely that the virus will be contained any time soon. The best solution to stopping it is proactivity.
Proactive solutions and responses are the best defense against the spread.
This bears repeating because it’s vital.
PROACTIVITY and proactive solutions are the key.
Even if you’re not traveling, it’s a wise idea to practice the things discussed above.
If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others.
Think ahead, stop the spread!
Thanks for reading everyone. Take care of your community by taking care of yourself and power up immune system for travel.
No fear, no panic, stay calm and keep training.
If you have any coronavirus tips, please by all means, share with us. Stay awesome and have a great day!
IMMUNITY SERIES PART 1: LYMPHATIC SYSTEM
IMMUNITY SERIES PART 2: DIGESTIVE HEALTH
IMMUNITY SERIES PART 3: WALK FOR IMMUNITY