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Keeping your immune system healthy year round is tricky, especially during the winter months when there are more colds and sicknesses being passed around. The strength of our immune system is what makes the difference between who gets sick and who doesn’t. “The one with the immune system functioning below base-line normal has an increased risk of getting sick,” says Woodson Merrell, MD, director of integrative medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against disease. It blocks foreign proteins from getting into your body. If a few happen to sneak by your biological defense, not to worry…with a powerful “search and destroy” task force, your body deploys a host of additional immune cell forces designed to hunt down these unwanted invaders and ultimately works to destroy them. Getting regular massage aids in keeping the immune system healthy.

Studies show that a lack of nurturing and support will have a negative impact on an individuals chemical environment, opening them more to illness as well as tying into the whole emotional state of a person. Jon Barron is the resident health expert for the “Healthy Trends” radio show in LA and recently talked about the benefits of massage on the immune system. A study was conducted in 2011, to determine what health benefits (if any), would someone have by getting a massage. Blood work was taken on individuals before and after a forty-five minute Swedish massage. The findings revealed that massages do indeed aid in immunity health! After the Swedish massage, the number of white blood cells in individuals increased. An increase in white blood cells puts more ‘fighters’ in our system, which keeps us in good health by fighting infections and viruses. There were lowered inflammation levels and decreased stress hormone (cortisol) levels. In addition, aggression levels were lowered, which in turn lowered blood pressure levels. Based on these studies, there was conclusive evidence that massages keep your immune system healthy.

For athletes, a heavy training regiment can also increase susceptibility to illnesses. There is evidence that following heavy exercise, both L-glutamine (an amino acid manufactured by the body) and the immune system take a dip. Evidence also suggests the healing and restorative effects of massage can play a key role in counteracting that dip by providing support through lymph movement to improved immune function. The athlete has to stay healthy in order to continue training. With massage, they can train harder because they are able to recover faster.

The most important thing you can do for your immune system is to achieve lifestyle balance and adopt the fundamentals of healthy living. This will give your immune system what it needs to function at optimal capacity. Reducing stress levels is key and massage has been shown to do this time and time again. Schedule your visit today with one our massage specialists at Hands on Health Massages in Asheville, NC.

Credits: Webmd.com + Job Barron’s podcast on massage and immune system health