As we age, our cell replication reduces and thus our immune system becomes more fragile with the reduction of “T cells” required to fight off infection. Thus, it becomes even more important for seniors to focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Because the body’s natural immunity to illness is a complex system that when kept in balance, has a higher capacity to perform its duties in keeping you healthy. A number of factors play into keeping that all-important, yet precarious balance:
- Minimizing stress
- Getting the right amount of sleep
- A healthy diet
- Regular exercise
- Keeping sugary foods and alcohol to a minimum
- Keeping your vaccinations up to date
But let’s be real: during the colder winter months, it can feel more difficult to find the motivation to get out and exercise while holiday gatherings create the perfect opportunities to indulge in perhaps a not-so-healthy diet along with that extra glass of wine. So, what can we do to “boost immunity”? Well, it can start with something as simple as washing your hands regularly to stave off infections that are gunning for your immune system.
You’ll also want to catch plenty of ZZZs. Getting adequate rest at night is crucial for your body to recuperate and regenerate. According to the Sleep Foundation, “Research suggests that sleep strengthens immune memory. The interaction of immune system components during sleep reinforces the immune system’s ability to remember how to recognize and react to dangerous antigens.”
With your body relaxed, energy can be devoted to the immune system in its healing tasks while the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin that’s produced at night can combat stress.
And speaking of stress, never underestimate the power of positive thinking. An attitude of gratitude has proven health benefits:
- Better, more restful sleep (see the benefits of that for your immune system above!)
- Fewer aches and pains
- Healthier hearts
- Less congestion
- Lower blood pressure
For more on the science behind the healthful benefits of gratitude, read more on our blog here. And feel that energy from a good night’s sleep, motivating you to make more healthful choices, like exercising regularly!
While getting out for a walk or community class might be difficult in the winter months, doing light stretching on the regular, or trying an at home yoga routine (with the permission of your doctor!) is a good option. Check out more benefits of yoga for seniors, as well as Verve Senior Living’s numerous signature life enrichment programs designed to nurture the body and mind. Rounding out a healthy lifestyle for a strong immune system is healthy eating. Verve’s Living Loving Local dining program focuses on seasonal ingredients prepared fresh daily, to ensure our residents receive the most nutritional value. We’ve also put together a list of the best foods for maintaining brain health and boosting memory, because when all of the body’s systems are working at their best, they can help each other out; and you fight off that pesky seasonal bug!