FindItMore | No parent would wish harm on their children. In fact, if there’s a way to shield them from the dangers of this world, you can bet that mommies and would do everything it takes to make it happen. With more and more fast-spreading viruses and other pathogens emerging today, the need to Boost Children’s Immunity has become more crucial. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to enhance his immunity, like engaging him in physical activities.
Studies show that exercising – whether deliberate or not – have a positive impact on a person’s immune system. This means that parents can find more ways to raise their children healthily, from simple walks in the park to enjoining them in children’s sports camps.
This article explains the link between human immunity and physical activity and features four more ways to keep your little one safe from sickness.
How Physical Activity Helps Immunity: The Missing Link
No matter who you are, there’s a good chance that you’ve been told that exercising is good for you — that engaging in physical activities make you healthier. While adults consider these as facts immediately, children – with their innate curiosity and growing need to ask difficult questions – are bound to ask their parents, “Why?”
As a parent, you might be tempted to dismiss your little one’s query by answering, “It just is.” Still, there may be a lingering thought at the back of your mind that makes you want to know the answer as well.
It’s almost impossible to clear that question up in just a single sentence because it varies. Like medication, physical activity has different effects on a person’s health, depending on the quality, frequency, and type of exercise performed.
Many scientists researched about this, and some recently discovered evidence that supports the following theories:
- Intense exercise helps improve the immune system’s defense activity and ensure metabolic health.
- Exercises provide anti-inflammatory benefits based on several pathways. For example, bacteria growth may be reduced due to the momentary rise of body temperature during and immediately following the activity, like what happens when you have a fever.
- Physical activity helps slow down stress hormone release. Since certain types of stress increase illness risk, lower levels of such hormones equate to reduced chances of illness.
- Physical activity with moderate to high intensity stimulates blood circulation, helping the blood distribute immunity to soldiers (a.k.a. the white blood cells) across the different parts of the body.
4 More Ways to Boost Your Child’s Immune System
A healthy lifestyle is one of the most important things parents must teach their children. Not only can it boost their immunity, but it also ensures that they remain generally healthy.
So, aside from keeping him active with home-based activities and kids holiday school camps, consider teaching him the following best practices to improve his defenses against illnesses:
1. Eating fruits and vegetables
When educating children about healthy living, you must never forget to include a well-balanced diet. Serve them foods rich in carotenoids – the phytonutrients that help boost immunity – such as green beans, carrots, oranges, and strawberries.
Phytonutrients aid in improving the body’s infection-fighting white blood cells and assisting interferon (antibodies that coat surfaces of cells) in preventing viruses from spreading. According to studies, a phytonutrient-filled diet also shields the body from chronic ailments during adulthood, including heart disease and cancer.
So, don’t neglect the power of fruits and vegetables; incorporate at least five servings a day in your child’s diet. One serving is equivalent to around one cup for older kids or two tablespoons for toddlers.
2. Getting enough sleep
Sleep is the body’s way of recuperating. According to one study, lack of sleep leads to higher susceptibility to illness as it reduces the number of immune cells that fight cancer cells and other harmful microbes. The same can be said for children, too.
Children left in daycare have a higher risk of sleep deprivation due to the activities they are given that make it hard for them to take a nap.
But how much sleep is considered enough? Learn the recommended sleep length based on the child’s age in the guide below:
- Infants – up to 16 hours
- Toddlers – 11 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers– ten to 13 hours
Remember that these numbers are collective of a child’s total sleep time in a day. It can be completed with several short naps or a single long slumber. If he didn’t get a chance to nap during the day, it would be best to let your child hit the sack earlier in the evening.
3. Practicing proper personal hygiene
Another thing you can do to boost your child’s defenses against illnesses is to teach him proper personal hygiene. While this technically doesn’t enhance his immunity, it is an effective way to reduce stress the immune system by reducing the number of germs that it needs to fight off.
Hand washing is one of the most important hygiene practices to teach young children. Teach him to wash often and with soap to get rid of dirt and pathogens on his hands. Make sure he does this before and after eating.
Also, remember to remind him to wash after:
- Playing outside
- Handling pets
- Blowing or cleaning his nose
- Using the bathroom
- Arriving home from the hospital, the daycare, or school
It would also be a good practice to carry hand sanitizers and disposable anti-bacterial wipes for quick cleanups when you’re out of the house. Those colorful and deliciously scented soap, wipes, and hand towels may also help motivate your child to keep his hands clean.
Other good personal hygiene practices children must be taught are bathing, toothbrushing, and the proper etiquette in coughing or sneezing.
4. Getting enough “vitamin sun”
Encouraging children to play outside, under the warmth of the sun, gives them a chance to get some exercise and fresh air. However, there’s one more benefit to this: it also gives them access to the most natural source of Vitamin D – the sun.
This explains why this is also known as the “sunshine vitamin.” Here’s how it works:
- The skin absorbs sunlight from direct exposure.
- Using the cholesterol in the body, it is then converted to usable Vitamin D.
- After that, it is distributed to every cell that needs Vitamin D, particularly the immune system.
Without enough Vitamin D from the sun, children can experience nutrient deficiency. According to research, this can increase the risk of autoimmune diseases like inflammatory bowel disorders and Type 1 Diabetes. Alternatively, optimal Vitamin D levels have been found to help improve the symptoms in these conditions by raising white blood cell production.
Help Your Child Stay Healthy
Your responsibility as a parent encompasses your child’s general welfare, so you should accept all the help you can get to make it happen. Use this article as a guide when deciding on physical activities to incorporate in your kid’s lifestyle and other immune-boosting practices to start teaching him.