Important disclaimer: This blog post is no substitute for medical advice. It’s meant to help you stay healthy, physically and mentally, while we ride out coronavirus, or COVID-19. If you’re sick, please, please see a qualified medical professional.
It seems like everything is shutting down thanks to the very quick spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – we want to protect those with compromised immune systems – if you’re facing a gym closure, you might feel like you’re losing the best outlet you have for dealing with stress. So how do you boost your immunity against coronavirus and stay healthy and fit?
1. Don’t panic.
I have to say this: panic is not good. Panic creates stress, and stress weakens your immune system. By all means, stay informed; the Centers for Disease Control has a lot of great information about coronavirus and how you can stay healthy. But know that, if you avoid crowds and practice good hygiene, and don’t have a compromised immune system, you have a very good chance of surviving this epidemic. There is a high survival rate and low fatality rate.
2. Keep up your fitness routine as best as you can.
Your gym may close down for a few weeks so that it doesn’t turn into a giant petri dish, especially if you live in an area with confirmed cases of coronavirus. But if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a lot like me; fitness is one of the main ways you relieve stress. And it may be difficult to get outside and go for a run if your children’s schools are closed (also like me). But if running is your thing, and you can wrangle childcare for a little bit, do it.
Otherwise, keep your body moving. Exercise has been proven to boost your immunity to disease, so if you can’t get to the gym or out for a run or walk, get in a workout in your home gym. Set aside some time to do a workout from a fitness app. Do some bodyweight moves. Just move. It will boost your immunity and relieve stress.
3. If you do go to the gym, wipe everything down.
Good news! If your gym is open, and you decide to go, you can’t catch coronavirus from sweat. But you can catch it through droplets emitted when someone coughs and sneezes – and then puts their dirty hands all over a barbell or dumbbell. To mitigate your risk of contracting coronavirus, wipe down equipment before and after you use it. Keep your hands away from your face during your workout, and wash your hands immediately after your workout.
4. Eat your veggies!
Nutrition is going to be really important if you want to stay healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. Eat plenty of vegetables to help boost your immune system. Frozen or canned vegetables work just as well as fresh, so you don’t need to make a run on the grocery store. Serve them at every meal (even breakfast – I love spinach and roasted red peppers in my omelets). If you need ways to sneak in some veggies, check out this blog post from my box.
5. Get plenty of sleep.
Sleep will definitely help boost your immunity to coronavirus and other illnesses. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body will make fewer cytokines, the protein that creates an immune system response. Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of shuteye per night, and if you have kids, make sure they’re getting enough sleep, too.
6. Take time to de-stress.
Stress definitely weakens your immune system – but with the kids home from school, being forced to work from home (or forgo work altogether), and the threat of coronavirus in the air (literally), it’s hard to de-stress. Take some time to do it anyway. Take a bath after the kids go to bed to get their sleep. Read a brain candy novel or work on a craft project. Lie in savasana for as long as you want. Whatever your healthy stress release mechanism is, make sure you take time for it.
7. Connect (virtually) with your loved ones.
A lot of events are being canceled (including road races), and you’re probably hesitating to go out. That’s totally okay! We have technology that will let you connect with your friends and family that don’t live in your house. FaceTime with them, or just send texts. Get in a little bit of human connection, because it does help with your mental well-being.
8. Spend extra time with the folks in your house.
If you live with people – your husband and children, in my case, or roommates or parents in other cases – spend some extra time with them. Dust off the board games, or chill on the couch and binge-watch Netflix. Do crafts with your daughter or have your son teach you how to play his favorite video game. Take turns reading a classic book out loud to each other. (Thank you, Kindle!) Connect or re-connect with the people who share a roof with you.
9. Wash your hands like Lady Macbeth.
This list of ways to stay healthy during the coronavirus pandemic wouldn’t be anywhere near complete without telling you to wash your hands. The recommendation is for 20 seconds of serious scrubbing with soap; my recommendation is to pretend you’re Lady Macbeth. For the Texans (and Tex-Mex enthusiasts) reading, wash your hands like you just sliced a batch of jalapeno peppers – and now have to take out your contact lenses.
Being dehydrated weakens your immune system, so make sure you’re drinking lots of water. Aim for half your body weight in ounces per day at a minimum. Water helps carry oxygen to your body cells and flush out toxins. If you’re making a grocery store or superstore run, grab yourself a Brita or other water filtration system so that you don’t have to tap into your bottled water stash.
Whatever happens, I’m praying for all of us that we get through this relatively unscathed. Take care of yourself, your loved ones, and your neighbors. We’re all in this together, and even though we’re limiting social contact, we’ll still need each other to beat this pandemic.