Can I exercise and boost my immune system at the same time?

With the theme of boosting your immune system for this month’s issue of Buddies for Life, you just might be wondering how this topic can be sufficiently addressed and assessed. The immune system is a complicated and multitier defence system. Therefore it works as a “system” not as a sole unit, presenting itself as a very complex defence system, not easily understood or defined.

As a writer on health, I can only suggest that you look at your health as a whole. Work on a harmony between your lifestyle and wellbeing. There is no single scientific way to boost your immune system, just as there is no single way to determine how we fall in the grips of cancer. We can however, as in our hopes of avoiding cancer, follow a sensible and healthy guideline of living. These guidelines or pathways would include a balanced diet, exercising in moderation and levels of abilities, refrain from smoking, getting adequate sleep, and engaging in preventative health checkups. Most importantly, try to control your stress levels! Sometimes we are stressed and not fully aware of it until we feel one of the many side effects stress can administer. Besides, how does one measure a stress level? One person’s stress level can be completely different from the next person’s, much like a pain threshold. I believe stress to be a leading factor in causing cancer.

Increasingly, modern medicine is confirming the connection or relationship of the mind and body. Therefore kindly consider the aspects of harmony and balance as a reality. Exercise assists in harmony and balance. When you are feeling drained, use varied ideas, methods and areas of the mind and body to make some form of exercise work for you during a low period. Some ideas could be stretching, chanting, meditation and Tai Chi. These genres all work with slow flowing movements, balance and the breath. The most important part of life is to breathe! Taking a moment to breathe can lower stress levels, send nutrients around the body, lower heart rate and improve cardiovascular health, amongst many other things. Breathing is something that you often read about in my articles about health and Pilates related exercises, because breathing is the most important part! If you feel Pilates is too vigorous when you are feeling low and in need of a boost, then try the following breathing exercise, or one of the other activities that I have suggested. The thing to remember is everything in moderation! With cancer we can not pin point what cells to address in specific before the damage is done, likewise, with our immune system, we cannot pin point which cells to address once the damage has been done. Do your best every day, not when it is too late.

Breathing exercise for your passive days…

Lie on either your right or left side on your mat or on a comfortable flooring with your head supported. Your legs should be bent in a 90 degree angle, and position your arms and hands one on top of the other. Inhale and reach your top arm and hand past the bottom one, and then lift it off the other to perform an arc towards the ceiling. Continue the movement to reach the floor behind you as you exhale. You should feel the chest opening and ribs relaxing into the floor or mat underneath of you. The thighs can come slightly apart as you roll onto your upper back, but try to avoid a complete opening so that you can also incorporate an upper body rotation.

To finish this exercise, take the whole arm arc and breathing pattern in reverse to come back to your starting position. You can repeat if desired.

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MEET THE EXPERT

Heidi Wright is certified in Pilates Mat, Allegro, Studio and Post Rehabilitation with Polestar Pilates and Pilates elder Lolita San Miguel. She is also a member and certified instructor with Pilates Method Alliance and a Post Rehabilitation practitioner with Pink Ribbon.

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