Supporting a Healthy Immune System:

Part 6: Lifestyle Habits

A healthy immune system (and good health in general) is built on a foundation of good lifestyle habits. We’ve covered some important ones, such as sleep and stress management in our series on Supporting a Healthy Immune System. Here are some additional every day practices that can help keep us well. 

 
Balanced diet

Eating a well-balanced diet is a vital part of supporting a healthy immune system. Following the Brook Healthy Plate and making sure to include a variety of foods in your diet can provide all the key nutrients needed for proper immune function.  Need to make some changes? Start with one small goal, like adding an extra serving of veggies to dinner. Need more tips for improving eating habits? We have you covered.

 
Physical activity

Physical activity has long been shown to reduce stress, control blood sugar & blood pressure, and improve both sleep & overall health. Getting regular exercise is also important for improved immune response, which in turn means fewer sick days! Try for 30 minutes of activity a day, which can be broken out into three 10-minute segments if that’s easier. Not sure how to exercise if you can’t go to the gym? Check out our easy ways to stay active at home.

 
Weight loss

Preliminary evidence is showing that people who maintain a normal BMI (18.5-24.9) are having better outcomes if they do get COVID-19. Good news – if you have a higher BMI (>40.0), you don’t need to move your BMI into a normal range to see benefits – any decrease in BMI can improve your overall health. Implementing positive lifestyle habits – weight loss or not – can also help protect you should you get sick.

 
Smoking cessation

Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for improving your health. Smoking is a known risk factor for several types of respiratory illnesses, including colds, flu, and pneumonia, and is associated with increased risk of contracting COVID-19 along with the more severe complications from that infection. We know that quitting is difficult, so we recommend starting with this help guide to create a plan for stopping. 

 
Social connection

It can be tough to maintain social connections when we are supposed to stay at home, but now it is more important than ever to reach out. Maintaining social ties improves immune system function and has been found to be one of the best predictors for longevity. Luckily, there are many ways we can still be social without being physically near other people. Many apps like FaceTime or Facebook Messenger have video chat features, or you can use a desktop version like Skype or Zoom to hang out with family. There are many types of games you can play online with people, even your favorite board games. You can still send letters and cards as a way to connect with others, and getting something in the mail is even more special now! 

It’s taken a lifetime to  set up your current habits, so it’s okay if it takes some time to change things up. It’s all about the small steps you take toward your goals. If you aren’t sure where to start, fear not! We have some easy ways to get into new, healthier routines

What habit would you like to work on? Chat with an Expert about small changes you can make that have a big impact!

Reviewed by Emily Matson, MS, RDN​

on September 30, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.