Support a Healthy Immune System with P3

LAST UPDATED: August 25, 2020
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Strategies for Staying Healthy with the COVID-19 using the Performance Triad, click this video External Link for ideas. 

1. SLEEP is your silver bullet! 

While more sleep won't necessarily prevent you from getting sick, skimping on it could adversely affect your immune system, leaving you susceptible to illness. 

  • Aim for least 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Set a bedtime; go caffeine-free 6 hours before bed.
  • Create an optimal sleep environment that is dark, quiet, and cool.
  • Maintain your normal routine by going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time.

COVID-19 Sleep Checklists from Walter Reed Army Institute of Research:

2. CHALLENGE and MOTIVATE your Family and friends to stay active! What do you, your Family and friends do for fun? Can you do the same things virtually? Help your Family and friends to stay focused, motivated, and accountable.

  • Schedule a workout with a friend virtually or creative activities inside (dancing, partner exercises).
  • Encourage competition by challenging others to meet particular activity targets. Use video chats to work out together in challenging ways such as holding a plank.
  • Challenge your Family and friends to join in 10 push-ups at 10:00; 16 sit ups at 1600.

3. Try creative ideas with your cardio and strength training workouts! Resistance bands, doorway pull-up bars, and free weights can be used at home. Consider reusing water bottles to boost strength AND reduce waste to help protect the environment. Here are some other ideas for working out at home:

  1. Use your stairs to perform calf raises, single-leg raises, or squats.
  2. Use a sturdy chair for tricep dips, step-ups, push-ups, or squat jumps.
  3. Use a hand or kitchen towel to practice ab rollers on your tile or hardwood floors, or switch to paper plates for use on a carpet.
  4. Use a gallon (or half-gallon) jug—filled with sand to desired weight—for bicep curls, overhead presses, or tricep extensions.
  5. Use a 72-oz detergent bottle—weighing about 5 lbs.—for 2-handed lifts such as shoulder raises or sumo squats.
  6. Use water bottles—filled with water or sand—for a variety of dumbbell-weight exercises, including bicep curls, weight lunges, and shoulder presses.

Participate in a virtual exercise class from your phone, computer or television. The following fitness studios are offering live-streamed classes for free and are only an example of resources available.  Use of trademarked names(s) does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Army but is intended only to assist in identification of a specific product. 

  • Blink Fitness is hosting Facebook® Live session weekdays at 0800 Eastern Standard Times.
  • Orangetheory fitness is sharing a 30-minute workout video each day across social media.
  • Peloton® is offering their app free for the next 90 days. Even without the stationary bike, the app has yoga, meditation, and bodyweight cardio and strength routines.
  • Gold's Gym® is offering an app for free with over 600 audio and video workouts.
  • Planet Fitness® is streaming "Work-Ins" at 1900 Eastern Standard Times on Facebook live.
  • Lifetime Fitness® "Classes on Demand" offers free cardio, yoga, and strength classes daily.
  • Build activity into your day. Set aside time at the top of every hour to commit to short bout of activity such as walking up and down the stairs.
  • If you are able to get outside, be sure to maintain a 6-feet distance from other people.

4. Eat the RAINBOW and aim for 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

The best thing to boost your immune system is to regularly eat a variety of foods with a focus on fruits and vegetables.  All fruits and vegetables are extremely beneficial in disease prevention, making them nutritional powerhouses!

  • Take advantage of frozen or canned fruits and vegetables for easy access.
  • Make ½ your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Add a handful of greens to your smoothies.

5. Eat a balanced PLATE for your immune system.

Nutrient rich foods are the ones that will help your immune system. Focus on eating 3 balanced meals a day with healthy snacks. Meal ideas that incorporate staple ingredients already available in your kitchen, visit the visit the Performance Triad's CookPad Website.

  • Be creative with the ingredients you already have on-hand, and try some new recipes.
  • Try new recipes with a slow cooker for comfort foods.
  • Key nutrients to help with immunity include:
    • Zinc is a mineral with anti-viral properties and may help to shorten respiratory tract infections including the common cold.  Foods with zinc include: shellfish, crab, beef, pork, chicken, avocados and legumes. 
    • Vitamin C protects the immune system and helps to fight off infections. Vitamin C is most bioavailable when consumed from whole foods such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, kiwi, etc.
    • Vitamin D can reduce the risk of a respiratory infection from flu-like viruses in people who start out deficient. There is no study pertaining to coronavirus, but if you are low on vitamin D levels despite eating foods with vitamin D, consider supplementing.
    • Probiotic rich foods may also help with your immune system such as: yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, kimchi, pickles, tempeh, and kombucha.
    • Omega 3 rich foods can help to boose your immune system such as mackerel, salmon, sardines and flax seeds.
    • Whole grains such as oats and barley rich in beta glucans can help to fight bacteria.

6. Hydrate with WATER throughout the day.  Drinking water throughout the day may help boost your immunity. Carry a water bottle with you and sip on it throughout the day. Set a reoccurring alarm on your phone to remind you to drink water at regular intervals. Add lemon or lime slices and fresh fruit to increase flavor. 

7. Manage STRESS with mindfulness and rest.  Avoid isolation by connecting with Family and friends via virtual opportunities.

  • Take time for yourself (e.g., meditation, prayer, yoga, journaling, reading, and taking a walk).
  • Maintain normal schedules, if possible, including sleep and wake times, meals, and activities.
  • Engage your brain with board games, reading, puzzles, and other cognitive activities.
  • Take time for Family fun (jigsaw puzzles, card games, scavenger hunts, reading a book together).

8. Limit ALCOHOL and avoid TOBACCO products including electronic cigarettes. Alcohol disrupts immune pathways, thus, impairing the body's ability to defend against infection. Tobacco harms the immune system and can make the body less successful at fighting disease.

9. Visit the Army Wellness Center webpage or local Army Wellness Center Facebook page for support.

10. Be INFORMED! Get COVID-19 updates from reliable, public health sources. 

Sleep, Healthy Diet, and Good Exercise—Your Invisible Body Armor Against InfectionExternal Link

  • Army Public Health Center COVID-19 webpage
  • Army COVID-19 Information Hotline 1-800-984-8523 Overseas DSN 312-421-3700 Stateside 421-37000
  • The Military Health System Nurse Advice Line 24/7 for healthcare advice 1-800-879-2273 option #1
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 webpage External Link
  • World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 webpage External Link
  • Your Local State and local Health Departments websites
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