Be a healthier version of yourself, post shutdown.

SINGAPORE (June 26): Singapore’s “circuit breaker” is gradually being lifted and that means we can be out and about in public. As we adjust to the new norms of social distancing and wearing masks, it is also important that we keep ourselves healthy. A strong immune system is important to help your body defend against disease-causing microorganisms.

If you have been unwell, feeling fatigued or are exhibiting other nagging symptoms, that may mean that you have a weakened immune system. Fret not, there are small adjustments you can make to your lifestyle to give your immune system a boost.

Take a breather

Being cooped up at home for an extended period of time leads to a serious case of cabin fever. You can even find yourself feeling tired at home, even though you have done nothing much to warrant that fatigue. You can blame that on stress. According to a report by the American Psychological Association, stress — especially if it is prolonged — will weaken the responses of your immune system. It also triggers a hormone known as corticosteroid, which can lower the number of lymphocytes or white blood cells that help to combat infections in your body.

A good way to counter stress is to take time to breathe. Spend some time every day to clear your mind and just concentrate on deep breaths. One solution could be yoga and meditation as it helps to counteract stress by creating a calm and relaxed surrounding.

Sleep well

According to Singapore Sport Institute’s resident nutrition and sleep expert Dr Richard Swinbourne, snoozing plays a large role in boosting your immune system. Have you noticed how you might end up falling sick after pulling all-nighters without enough shut-eye? “Sleep is not a waste of time and should receive the same level of attention as nutrition and exercise in the package for good health,” says Swinbourne. On average, those over the age of 18 should get about eight hours of sleep every night.

Some habits to keep for a good night’s rest include skipping supper as eating causes a spike in metabolism, making it difficult to get a good rest. You should also stay away from caffeine at least six hours before you go to bed. On top of that, sleeping in a cool room of temperatures between 18 to 22 degrees Celsius helps to cool your body down and enter into the optimal sleep rhythm. It is also important to switch off the lights and keep all screens before you go to bed. Finally, try to keep a regular sleep to set a consistent internal clock.

Eat right

You do not have to be on a strict diet to keep healthy, but it helps if you are a little more mindful of what you are eating. According to the Harvard Medical School, a healthy immune system needs good and regular nourishment. Research has shown that people who are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. There is also some evidence that some micronutrient deficiencies, like iron, folic acid and vitamins, can alter immune responses.

Basically, you are what you eat, and a simple way of making sure you are getting enough nutrients in your diet is just to follow the food pyramid. Include more healthy carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits, a moderate amount of meat and milk and less to none of fats, sugar and sweets in your diet. You can also consider taking daily multivitamins and mineral supplements if you have certain diet restrictions.

Exercise your core

Regular exercise can help to reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even help to control body weight. Just as important it is to maintain a balanced diet, and have quality sleep, exercise can help to boost your immune system. As you exercise, your heart rate increases, thus promoting blood circulation, which allows antibodies and white blood cells in the blood system to circulate more rapidly.

Gyms and workout studios may only admit a limited number of visitors post circuit breaker but that does not mean you cannot still get a good workout. At the very least, you can squeeze in some physical activity in your daily routine, says Raffles Medical’s Dr Derek Li. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, or alight at a bus stop earlier and walk the extra distance.

“These may seem insignificant, but their health benefits add up over time,” he says.

There are also several online platforms with workout classes for you to follow at home. No equipment needed, all you need is determination.