We've got your daily get-better schedule right here. (Plus, some bonus tips for the weekend.)
6 a.m.: Eat a healthy breakfast.
Eat blueberries and grapes. In a lab comparison, compounds in these two fruits were tops in aiding a bacteria-fighting gene.
7 a.m.: Hit the gym.
Exercise can lessen the decline in immunity that occurs with age. Morning is the workout time most people find they can stick with.
8 a.m.: Shower post-workout.
Strenuous exercise reduces skin's ability to keep out or destroy microbes. Restore your defenses by showering immediately after a serious workout, then moisturizing to maintain your skin's integrity.
11 a.m.: Put the kettle on.
Compounds in green tea stimulate the immune system (targeting the baddies, but not healthy tissue). A few cups a day can also protect skin against UVA radiation.
1 p.m.: Join a pal for a walk.
People with more types of social ties (friends, family, coworkers) are less likely to get sick when exposed to cold viruses.
3 p.m.: Keep vaccinations up to date.
And schedule 'em for p.m. hours: In a small study, women responded better to afternoon shots, men to morning ones.
6 p.m.: Practice puppy love.
Finish off your dog walk with some snuggle time. Petting a pooch boosts important immune system molecules. And it's not just the relaxation: In a study, hugging a stuffed toy or simply chilling on the couch didn't compare.
6:30 p.m.: Sip some Cabernet.
Red wine can help regulate the immune system so it kills germs but avoids attacking your tissues. Imbibe early so you'll sleep well -- and stop at one glass.
7 p.m.: Make a stir-fry.
Mushrooms, garlic, and cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cabbage) all improve immune response and are linked to cancer prevention.
8 p.m.: Go offline.
Two hours of exposure to a backlit screen (on a tablet, say) leads to a 23% drop in melatonin, the "sleep" hormone that also plays a role in immune function.
10 p.m.: Turn off and sleep.
Your chance of catching a cold triples with less than seven hours of zzz's. If you wake often, get help -- you may lose out on immune activity that goes on at night.
On the weekend: Get outside, do yoga, and go on a hot date.
- See the forest: Hiking boosts natural killer cells. Breathe! Aromatic tree oils increase those cells' activity.
- Stretch. Lower stress = higher immunity. Plus, a 90-minute yoga class doubled antibacterial proteins in one study.
- Schedule a steamy night. Sex once or twice a week boosts infection-fighting IgA immune cells.
- By Susan Ince
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