Written by: Katherine Dreyer, Co-founder of ChiRunning, ChiWalking & ChiLiving
If there is anything we need to learn from COVID-19 it is that maintaining a healthy immune system is the most important thing when it comes to staving off the most devastating effects of this virus and of most illnesses. It is our first line of defense.
Viruses are opportunistic. They thrive where the immune system is weakest. Yes, your immune system can be compromised, sometimes due to lifestyle habits and sometimes through no fault of your own, but there is much we can and need to be doing to help our immune system cultivate its defensive capabilities.
It is not too late to begin! Start taking a few actions every day to build your immunity now.
Western medicine comes to our rescue for many health issues, but the truth is, real health comes from our lifestyle including how we eat, how we think and manage stress, and how and how much, we move our bodies.
Build your Immunity with ChiWalk-Run
During these stressful times, we highly recommend the ChiWalk-Run method for a gentle movement that keeps your immune system functioning at a high level without compromising it by overstressing your body. As Runner’s World says: “A run can build your immune system but a marathon can potentially weaken it.”
According to the NY Times: “Continuing to be inactive…can decrease immune function. On the other end of the spectrum, very demanding exercise can also lead to immune impairment.”
Even though we all feel the approach of Spring and warmer running weather ahead, now is not the time to push your body to its limits. Body Sense, and let your body move when it needs to, but also be aware of when you are pushing too hard. No matter what, movement is absolutely crucial to building your immune system.
Depending on your fitness level, the ChiWalk-Run program offers something for everyone. If you have been somewhat sedentary this Winter, start with ChiWalking. It is the safest way to get moving. If at some point your body needs a bit more than just walking, you can add in short spurts of ChiRunning.
If you’re a runner who is just getting back into running after a Winter hiatus, ChiWalk-Run is the perfect way to slowly build your running program without weakening your immune system. Remember, this is not the time to challenge your immune system with intense race training, but a time to strengthen it with responsive care for your body and its well-being. ChiWalk-Run requires Body Sensing and paying close attention to what is too little and too much while offering you a method of movement that gradually builds your conditioning as it builds your immune system.
Keep that Chi Flowing
Stagnant energy is where viruses find a home. Breathing, getting your blood pumping, practicing good posture – all the components of ChiWalking and ChiRunning – will keep your chi flowing and your immune system functioning at a higher level.
You would never think of running 3 or 4 times a day, but it is totally appropriate to take several shorter walks.
Your Body and your Immune System Need Fresh Air
The need for fresh air should not be minimized. It comes across as a platitude, something your mother would say to you when she needed some quiet. Your body needs movement and fresh air as much as possible.
It seems we’ve become afraid of the hot and the cold and we tend to stay indoors, far too much. I walk every single day. But only on days when the weather is perfect do I see many people out joining me. A little rain, or a dip into colder temperatures, and I have the trails practically to myself, except for a few dog walkers.
Fresh air is crucial to your immune system. Outdoor air is much cleaner and more deeply oxygenating than indoor air, even in most cities.
Besides opening your windows regularly, even for a short time when it is really cold, the solution is to go outdoors. Danny and I sleep with an open window all year round and we are outside getting fresh air many times during the day: we do a longer, outdoor walking or running workout in the morning, a shorter walk after dinner, and mini walks and fresh air breaks during the day. This is how we live.
Additional Immune Support
In addition to getting your body moving (gently) and getting plenty of fresh air here are a few additional suggestions to help build your immune system:
- Stop eating sugar, it’s the number one culprit in weakening your immune system. It’s a brutal addiction, but giving it up, or at least minimizing sugar will go a long way in helping your immune system get stronger. This includes sweetener substitutes. Eat fresh or frozen fruit if you have a sugar craving.
- Get plenty of rest, and make sleep a priority; take naps if you need to. Turn off all screens at least an hour before bed, read a book instead and do whatever it takes to prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep.
- Take vitamin C. We use Nutribiotic’s Hypo-Aller C Powder. It’s buffered and has no added sweeteners. Take it in small doses several times a day.
- Some of the most common natural ways to boost the immune system include: (pick a few, more is not necessarily better)
- Vitamin D
Our Preferred Recommendation: NatureWise’s Vitamin D3 5,000 IU
Our Preferred Recommendation: Nature’s Way Original Sambucus Elderberry Syrup
Our Preferred Recommendation: Herb Pharm’s Certified Organic Echinacea Root Liquid Extract
Our Preferred Recommendation: Renew Life’s Adult Probiotics 30 Billion CFU
Our Preferred Recommendation: Hyperbiotics Organic Prebiotic Powder
Our Preferred Recommendation: Gaia Herbs’ Astragalus Supreme
- Zinc lozenges
Our Preferred Recommendation: Nature’s Way Organic Sambucus Lozenge (Elderberry & Zinc)
- Trace minerals
Our Preferred Recommendation: Trace Minerals’ Mineral Drops Concentrace
Our Preferred Recommendation: MegaFood’s Women’s One Daily Multivitamin or MegaFood’s Men’s One Daily Multivitamin
- Oil of oregano
Our Preferred Recommendation: Gaia Herbs’ Oil of Oregano
- Garlic – Raw is best or take capsules
Our Preferred Recommendation: Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract Formula
Our Preferred Recommendation: MegaFood’s Daily Tumeric Nutrient Booster Powder*If you do get ill, our T’ai Chi Master and acupuncturist recommends these Chinese herbs: Plum Flower Chinese Tea Yu Ping Feng San/Jade WindAll of these are products we have used. It is crucial you do your own research as to what is best for you, get help from a health practitioner and make sure what you take does not interfere with other medications or health issues. Neither Danny nor I, are licensed, health practitioners.
- Manage your stress. That sounds almost like a joke right now. We’re in a financial and health crisis around the world and we’re asking you to manage your stress.
Yes. This is the perfect storm that can drive you deeper into what matters most: your health, your family, your neighbors, a healthy environment. This is a time when stressing over the small things goes out the window and becoming aware of your great capacity for living life meaningfully can be awakened.
It’s a good time to spend some quiet time, become more aware of reactionary responses and learn tools such as meditation to calm the mind and enrich the spirit.
- Eat well. This is not a time for quick junk food, but for deep nourishment. Soups and broths should be prepared and frozen in case you do get sick.
- Be grateful for what you have and compassionate toward others. This will help your body and your being feel so much better. Just think of someone or something you love for 1 minute and see how you feel. Nothing is more deeply nourishing than love.
- Vitamin D
We will write more in the coming weeks about health and healing. Meanwhile, we’re so grateful to the Chi community, our Certified Instructor and our amazing customers who all help keep the Chi flowing.
We wish for all of us to get through this crisis with healthy bodies and open, healthy hearts.