Sickness doesn’t discriminate. Even the best of us fall victim to germs. But strong bodies can fight off those germs better, so you can get back to doing what you love faster. Learn six things you can do each day to strengthen your immune system.

Lisa Chulich

Pro climber and PhysiVāntage athlete Lisa Chulich strengthening her immune system through movement. Photo by Rich Crowder.

Like it or not, sickness is a part of the human experience. We’ll all catch germs, especially in this post-COVID era. Having an optimally functioning immune system helps fight off the various viruses that we contract while going about our daily lives. A robust immune system makes it possible to fight off those germs more quickly so that they don’t affect our behaviors and intentions nearly as much.

Here are six tips for staying as healthy as possible, and climbing strong through it all.

1. Exercise daily.

Strive to get your pump on and your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes per day. It’s good for mind & body! Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of outdoor recreation per day (walking, running, hiking, etc.) for both a cardio and mood boost, and an hour of strength training, bouldering, hangboarding, floor exercises, and other activities that support your muscles. Even on rest days, try to get in some gentle movement in natural environments that inspire and refresh you.

2. Eat a nutritious diet.

Consume fruits & vegetables rich in Vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc. Consider taking supplemental Vitamin D (at a dose of 1000 – 5000 IUs per day). Eat lean protein at every meal and consider using a protein supplement. Athletes need more protein than most for the sake of both muscle recovery and immune system strength, so consume 1.2 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Don’t forget plenty of water.

3. Go outside for at least 1 hour per day.

A daily dose of sunshine and fresh air makes an enormous difference in mood and energy. Go for a walk or run every day, and use the time to let your thoughts wander to your future climbing (and life) goals!

4. Avoid overtraining.

Too much intense exercise can actually weaken your immune system. Make sure to balance intensity with calmer activities, like yoga and walking or light hiking, that still get you moving without adding more stress than your body can handle.

5. Get adequate sleep. 

Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. When you’re sick, you may need even more! Sleep is the best natural recovery aid from training or from an influx of germs.

6. Keep stress levels low. 

Mental stress on top of physical stress creates a spiral that’s hard to escape from. Limit mental stress as much as possible so that you don’t push yourself past the point of no return. Stop dwelling on things beyond your control. Unplug from fearful media. Help the needy. Aim to remain positive, hopeful, and purposeful in your day to day life.

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