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Boost Your Immune System

We are braving through dangerous times across Canada with no end in sight to the deadly CORONAVIRUS.

With directives coming from the World Health Organization, Health Canada, and every Provincial Health Department, officials are trying their best to slow or stifle the spread of COVID-19.  

There are things that we can do to help, though, even more so if everyone believes in the seriousness of what we face in COVID-19 and the need to eradicate it.  

The following “strong advice” comes directly from the WHO:  

Wash your hands frequently; keep your hands away from your face, especially your mouth, nose, and eyes; 

Maintain social distancing, as in keeping at least two meters away from people you don’t know; Self-quarantine if you have recently returned from outside Canada; 

Stay at home if you exhibit symptoms; Dial 811 if you develop symptoms.

You can help your immune system by maintaining a fitness program outside or in your home but not in any public gym, pool or community center until your local health authority deems it safe. 

There are many benefits to working out, such as improved fitness, mental health and especially during the current pandemic to help boost your immune system.

In a Podcast interview, Vancouver based Dr. Jack Taunton, a renowned sports medicine doctor, former chief medical officer of the 2010 Olympics talked about how exercise can boost your immune system.

He also talked about the importance of social distancing.

Dr. Taunton, who has run 62 marathons, including 30 in less than two hours and thirty minutes says, “With the CORONAVIRUS, everybody wants to know, can we exercise?  

The answer is definitely yes because aerobic exercise stimulates your immune system and we want that to occur if you do become exposed to CORONAVIRUS, which unfortunately numbers are increasing.”  He said, “If you look at what are the most significant factors in terms of leveling out and reducing the incidents of CORONAVIRUS, social distancing is at the top of the list. Also, don’t travel and as all we should know (to do) hand washing frequently.”

He continues, “In terms of exercise, that social distance is two meters, the best activities are aerobic so that could be walking, pole walking, cycling, running, golf, cross country skiing, single kayaker.”

He continues “The important thing is two meters distance between you and your running or walking mate and you want to ensure there is no contact as you, the athlete, no contact with your face, mouth, nose or eyes which are very important.”

Dr. Taunton stresses some individuals when they exercise may spit and you want to avoid that as it can be deadly. Also, another tip is to wear gloves for more protection.

There’s more:  “So many people walk with their dogs, but dogs transmit CORONAVIRUS. So if you are with your dog, so many people like to kiss the dog or have the dog lick them in the face; don’t – there’s too much potential for risks. I am just saying, let’s keep it simple. Dogs can potentially transit (the virus).  No face-licking with your friendly dog,” he said.

Workouts inside your home are another option if you are not exercising outdoors.

Dr. Taunton says, “It is really important for those with some chronic infection like myself, or (if) the individual is diabetic. 

These individuals with impaired immune systems so need to be exercising. It is really critical; we never did it before, now it is really important to be doing that.” 

He implores a listener to understand that regular exercise will stimulate your immune system to ward off the deadly virus without cure.  

He says, “You want your immune system at its best.”

To recap, he says, “Stay away from groups. Too many people behind you in the check out line and they are right behind you. Nicely turn around and remind them about the importance of social distancing.”

Helping yourself and others by not traveling and hand washing is essential, plus doing regular aerobic exercise to stimulate your immune system.

I also reached out to Dr. Doug Clement, who, along with Dr. Taunton founded the world-famous Vancouver Sun Run. 

He said: “Clearly, social distancing and personal hygiene top the list of limiting risk. Physical activity plays a central role in health maintenance and is recommended during this viral pandemic.” 

Continuing on to mention “Clearly, outside courses in parks and trails offer an opportunity to avoid crowds and logic would suggest the avoidance of change of routine in exercise load. Moderate to easy training would be the safest choice.”

Thanks to Christine for her weekly features and don’t forget to follow her on Twitter or Youtube.

Dr. Jack Taunton