Many of us are continuing the COVID-19 lockdowns that have been enacted globally to help slow the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 2.4 million people. While lockdowns are an effective way to limit contact with others, they do carry health-related downsides that could weaken your immune system thus increasing your risk of contracting a serious case of COVID-19. 

Medical expert Dr. Jan McBarron, who co-hosted the award-winning, nationally syndicated health talk radio program Duke & The Doctor for two decades, claims that individuals impacted by the lockdowns are more likely to lead sedentary lifestyles, get less sunshine, and have elevated stress levels due to their radically altered lives and lack of social interaction.

As a strong immune system plays such a key role in fighting off the virus, Jan McBarron MD, ND shares five of the most effective ways to boost your immune system from the confines of your home.

Get Plenty of Sleep

We have many excuses for not getting as much sleep as we should during our usually hectic lives. Most of them no longer apply, so there is no reason not to use this opportunity to get some serious shuteye. Dr. Jan McBarron recommends adults get at least 7 hours of sleep nightly, while teens should push that to 8-9 hours. Turn your devices off an hour before bed to help your eyes and mind prepare for a deeper sleep. 

Get More Exercise

Exercise is one of the best ways to boost your immune system and lower stress. Previously the leading excuse was always lack of time; now we all have plenty of free time. However, she encourages individuals not to overexert themselves as too much intense exercise can suppress your immune system. Instead, engage in longer stretches of moderate exercise, which can facilitate the regeneration of immune cells. A lack of physical activity during the day can also make it harder to sleep at night, so getting enough exercise is doubly important. 

Stay Well Hydrated

Dehydration can make you susceptible to illness, so Jan McBarron recommends replacing drinks like caffeinated beverages and soda, which are dehydrating with water which is hydrating. Thirst is an extremely late sign of hydration levels by the time one feels thirsty, they are usually dehydrated. With age, the thirst signal weakens so it is important to drink regularly regardless of how thirsty one may feel. In addition, the thirst center is located close to the hunger center in the brain. Frequently people mistake thirst for hunger and eat when they really need water instead.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating well is one of the strongest defenses against viruses and other illnesses. Overconsumption of processed foods and sugar can lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes, conditions which put one at greater risk of COVID-19. On the other hand, consuming plant-based foods and healthy fats like olive oil can lower inflammation and improve gut health thereby increasing immunity.

Seek Sunshine

Lastly, get as much sunshine as you can while avoiding high-traffic areas that could increase your risk of contracting or unwittingly spreading COVID-19. Driving out to a secluded area and going for a walk through some open fields or simply finding somewhere secluded to read a book while soaking up some rays is a great option according to Dr. Jan McBarron. On the other hand, you should avoid areas like forests with narrow paths, which could make it a challenge to safely pass other people.