By Dr. Chris Mulvey, PT

The coronavirus outbreak likely has led to a surge in sales for the supplement industry as proactive-minded individuals try to protect themselves against COVID-19 by boosting their immune system.

Indeed, vitamins A, B, C, E and zinc are proven to help the human body fight off illness and are readily available at the nearest drugstore. Health-conscious individuals may go the natural route and comb the produce section of their local supermarket for citrus, leafy greens and other fruits and vegetables.

Another way to boost the immune system isn’t so easy – exercise.

The immune system is your body’s natural defense mechanism that can flush away viruses, bacteria and other harmful impurities. When germs enter the body, they’ll stay until something pushes them out. The longer they linger, the greater likelihood that you’ll become sick.

Getting your immune system working on all cylinders and in optimal condition take a multifaceted approach to health care. A healthy and balanced diet, ample sleep, reduced stress levels, proper hygiene and exercise all work together to create a strong immune system.

The definition of “exercise” varies greatly, but for purposes of your immune system, individuals should consider low to moderate levels of exercise on a regular basis. White blood cells help fight off infections, so keeping a steady stream of cells pumping through the body amplifies the rate at which cells circulate the body and effectively kill viruses and bacteria.

The key to exercise as it relates to the immune system is not overdoing it. Extended, high-intensity workouts can actually have the opposite effect as many endurance athletes have actually shown depressed immunity.

Physical therapists can offer examples of immune-boosting, low to moderate exercises, which may include 20 to 30 minutes of bicycling or walking around the neighborhood, yoga, golf, tennis or simply stretching for an extended period.

The coronavirus seems to have reminded everyone to be vigilant about handwashing and proper etiquette for sneezing and coughing, and hopefully it also serves as a refresher that diet and exercise plays a huge role in our overall health.

As always, consult with a trained medical professional prior to making any substantial exercise, dietary or lifestyle changes.

About the Author

Dr. Chris Mulvey, PT, is president for company-owned operations at FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Centers, which has 427 locations in 45 states. For more information, please visit

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