Wouldn’t it be so great to be able to boost immunity by simply by going easier on ourselves? We can! Northwestern University scientists say that relaxing drops stress hormone levels, which makes immune cells stronger. This cuts your risk of illness by 45 percent and helps you bounce back in half the time if you do catch a bug. Scroll down for a few tricks that will send stress packing.
Take a ‘couch day.’
Daily strolls are relaxing when it’s warm out. But now that it’s blustery, well, we’d rather cozy up at home. And the great news is, you can trade some of your daily walks for couch time and still get the immunity-boosting perks of exercise. British scientists say 30 minutes of moderate movement three times weekly alternated with kicking back on the other four days cuts stress hormone release within 72 hours, raising levels of virus-fighting proteins (called cytokines) by 30 percent.
Kick back with a good read.
Settle into a comfy chair for a great read with your feet propped on a heating pad, and your stress levels will drop by 68 percent. And doing so 30 minutes daily could reduce illness risk by 40 percent in a week. That’s the word from Utah State University scientists, who say reading releases calming brain waves, while warming your tootsies curbs stress hormone release and boosts immunity.
Linger longer in the shower.
Aah, that warm water feels so good. While you’re showering, simply massaging your scalp for 10 minutes heightens your ability to quash invading viruses by as much as 32 percent, suggests research in Scientific Reports. Explains study co-author Sam Brod, Ph.D., stimulating scalp nerves eases stress and encourages the release of virus-killing immune cells (T cells).
Savor garlic bread.
There’s nothing like the smell of fresh garlic bread! And savoring one large clove of garlic daily cuts your risk of viral infections 53 percent, suggests a study in the Journal of Immunology Research. The aroma soothes stress, says study co-author Dan Sahagun, Ph.D., while its sulfur compounds up production of virus-fighting antibodies by as much as 40 percent.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.