Doctor of Medicine

When you have a packed day, it can be difficult to get down to the gym for a lengthy workout. But exercise doesn’t just rid you of extra calories; it also keeps your immune system primed to fight infection.

You might be wondering, how does the immune system work exactly and why does exercise boost one’s immunity? Nobody knows for sure, but researchers have theorized that when you take deep, frequent breaths (such as during heavy exercise), you effectively flush out bacteria from your respiratory system. Another hypothesis revolves around the role of improved circulation in sending white blood cells throughout the body, purging your body of microorganisms that might cause infection.

Other researchers believe exercise regulates the release of stress hormones, such as glucocorticoids. These hormones minimize inflammation, which is good – but they do so by lowering your immune response, which is bad if it carries on for a long period of time.

To help you boost your immune system even while you’re busy and stressed at work, here are a few suggestions on how you can incorporate exercise into your busy schedule – without the gym in the picture, of course!

To start, use an app like SparkPeople or a personal fitness monitor like the Fitbit Flex to keep tabs on your activity level. When you track exercise throughout the day, you’ll be surprised by how much you can do in small amounts of time. (Consult your doctor before adding exercise to your daily routine to avoid injury.)

In the Morning

Begin the morning with easy stretching after waking up. A brief yoga or Pilates routine can prime you for a long day, too. While the coffeemaker is running, do a few squats.

Another option is to use a jump rope or exercise bands for a short time. Some people like to lift dumbbells or kettle bells for a short period. If you have time, learn new moves from a fitness video.

For instance, the Seven-Minute Workout is a popular high-intensity circuit training routine that people can do at home. It uses your body weight to produce a strenuous workout. One full circuit takes about seven minutes, but workout creators Brett Klika and Chris Jordan suggest you’ll get more out of it if you repeat it two or three times.

Afternoon Fitness Opportunities

During the day, take advantage of chances to escape your seat. Check in with the coworker with the file you need instead of instant messaging. Stop and stretch lightly every so often to ease tight muscles. For a short break, walk over to the copy machine or head to the office bulletin board. Health expert Joy Bauer urges people to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Walk around the neighborhood during lunch. Ask a coworker or two to join you for a team effort. During errands, park a few blocks away from your destination and take a brisk stroll. Inside a shop, go around the store before picking up the item you want.

Evening Fitness

Enjoy a short walk after dinner or do an exercise DVD for fifteen minutes to half an hour. When watching television, swap a seat for an exercise ball to tone muscles. Using the exercise ball as a seat is good for improving balance and toning core muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Get up and dance during commercials or hit pause during a video and see how many jumping jacks you can do in three minutes. You can lift canned goods and water bottles to work your arms, too. Challenge the family to a quick activity in the backyard or at the park like tossing a ball around or tag with younger children.

Keep Going on Weekends

Although the weekends may seem like the ideal time to catch up on paying bills or planning next week’s important meeting, it’s good for you to keep moving. Set a timer for ten minutes and race around with a duster or mop if your home needs tidying.

Don’t forget to enjoy the outdoors. Have friends over to shoot hoops or kick a soccer ball around the park with your family. Gardening and activities like mowing the lawn and weeding can burn a lot of calories too. If the weather’s warm enough, go swimming in an inflatable pool. Bike rides don’t have to be lengthy to be fun.


Even when you’re traveling for a business, it’s still possible to fit in exercise opportunities. For example, be sure to take comfortable shoes, then go for a stroll each day. On the way back to your room, exit the elevator a few floors early and walk up the rest of the way.

Waiting for a flight? Walk around the terminal, depending on how much time you have before boarding.

Also, put together a playlist for your smartphone so you can exercise to something familiar while you’re far from home. A hotel workout like the one from Adam Bornstein includes lunges, shadow boxing, and other fun exercises.

When reaching the gym seems difficult, you can look for easy ways to add exercise to your daily life. All you need is a few minutes a day. It’s an investment that pays and you know it!



Stef dela Cruz is a doctor-columnist who received the Dean Bacala Academic Excellence Award from the University of Santo Tomas and the Health Media Award from the Department of Health. She is the human of three cats and a dog. Stalk her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – she won’t sue.

Add a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *