Support a Healthy Immune System with P3

LAST UPDATED: June 23, 2023
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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.

​2. CHALLENGE and MOTIVATE your Family and friends to stay active! What do you, your family and friends do for fun?  Help your family and friends to stay focused, motivated, and accountable.

  • Schedule a workout with a friend.
  • Encourage competition by challenging others to meet particular activity targets.
  • 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.

Try something new for your workout routine. Try a new exercise class.

  • 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.

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 Recipe Ideas.

  • 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 boost 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.  Stay connected​​ with family and friends.

  • 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 Forces Wellness Center webpage.

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