The Betterment Project

How to Up Your Body’s Defenses During a Viral Pandemic

By the editors of the Betterment Project


COVID-19 is a threat unlike any we’ve seen. Nobody can say how long it will last or how many people it will affect, but we do know it’s bad. The numbers are rising in all 50 states, and in many cities, experts expect the number of sick people to soon exceed the capacity of the local hospitals.


And then there’s this: The virus is killing men at far higher rates than women, according to data presented in the British Medical Journal. In some countries, the difference is as high as 50 percent.


Now’s not the time to feel despondent—not if you can help it. The threat may be invisible, but you still have some power to fight back. Step one is to listen to the experts: Stay at home if you can, keep your distance from others, and wash your hands as frequently as an ER doctor. Those are the most important things you can do to keep yourself safe and prevent spreading the virus to others.


But what if you do catch the coronavirus? There’s no cure, so if you end up sick—and many of us will, no doubt about it—then it’s up to your body’s immune system to fight the battle. So in addition to social distancing and killing the buggers with soap and sanitizer, you need to keep your immune system strong. Doing so could save your life.


We’ve put together four science-backed ways to bolster your body’s natural defense system. Follow them, take care of yourself, and stay safe.


Keep Moving

The gym might be closed, but you should still maintain a daily sweat session, as long as you can stay six feet away from your neighbors. As we reported in 8 Ways to Prevent the Common Cold, people who work out moderately at least five times per week are 27 percent less likely to come down with a cold than those who don’t exercise. And when exercisers do get sick, they bounce back quicker.


It’s worth noting that your immune system does experience a momentary decline immediately after a super-intense exercise, so right now, moderation is key. But hey, your marathon was canceled anyway.


Go to Sleep Already

One major benefit of working from home: no commute = more time to sleep. This does wonders for your immunity, because as it turns out, sleep helps your body produce proteins that target infection and inflammation, according to the National Sleep Foundation.


Experts suggest that you log seven to nine hours of sleep a night, but go ahead and strive for a full nine. If there was ever a time to be an overachiever, it’s now. 


Meet Your Nutrient Needs

It’s almost impossible to get the optimal dosage of nutrients from food alone, so we developed our Superhuman Supplements with one goal: to help your body defend itself so you can perform at your peak. Most people will load up on vitamin C to fight infection, but we’ve provided the full range of vitamins and minerals—vitamin D, iodine, and B12—to give your body the tools it needs to be the healthiest version of itself.


Of course, our supplements also deliver ashwagandha and other compounds that bolster brainpower. That might come in handy if you’re having a hard time concentrating in your new work-from-home routine.


Stay Off of Twitter

Did you know that negative emotions can weaken your immune response? It’s true: There’s real power in positive thinking. So instead of spending your days scrolling through dooms-day tweets, head over to our Instagram, where you’ll find yoga flows, HIIT workouts, and more at-home betterment sessions. And then make sure to Zoom a friend sometime this week: Social distance doesn't need to mean social isolation.

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