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How to Boost Your Immune System

Learn how to make your body resistant to germs and disease so you can live a longer, healthier life.


  • Step 1: Get moving Get moving: Just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise will do. You can even split it into three 10-minute bursts of activity.
  • Step 2: Laugh it off Find something to laugh about every day – even force it if you have to. Real or fake, laughter strengthens your immune system by increasing good-for-you hormones and reducing stress ones; lowering your blood pressure; and slowing your resting heart rate.
  • Step 3: Look at the bright side Train yourself to look at the bright side. Optimistic people were two and a half times less likely to develop cancer of any kind than their pessimistic peers, according to one study.
  • Step 4: Make time for friends Make time for the friends you have and cultivate new ones. A study found that seniors with a lot of pals were 22 percent less likely than their less social counterparts to die during the decade when they participated in the study.
  • TIP: Start a bridge group. Research shows that bridge boosts the body's defense against infections and illness.
  • Step 5: Eat well Eat a healthy diet: at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day focusing on the antioxidant powerhouses; complex carbs, fatty fish, and a few cups of green tea at least two times a week; a daily handful of nuts; no more than one glass of alcohol per day; and a limited amount of meat and sweets.
  • TIP: Eat more mushrooms during cold and flu season: Research shows that when a virus is present, mushrooms may rally the immune system to fight them.
  • Step 6: Catch your zzzzz's Get at least seven hours of sleep every night, more if you can.
  • FACT: The first scientists to prove that the body defends itself against disease through the immune system shared the Nobel Prize in 1908.

You Will Need

  • Daily moderate exercise
  • Something to laugh about
  • Optimism
  • Lots of friends
  • A healthy diet
  • Seven to nine hours of sleep per night
  • A bridge group (optional)

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