It’s a great time of year to bolster your immune system and build up your ability to stay healthy and active.

Your immune system is just that, a system. There are many variables affecting your defenses to disease and threats in your environment. A holistic approach relies on a variety of elements that together work to keep your immunity up.

Your first line of defense is a common sense healthy lifestyle. It’s all the things you heard about growing up. Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and keep your stress low. Manage your weight, keep your alcohol and desserts to a minimum and take your vitamins. It’s a general recommendation but it is a great start. If your healthy lifestyle is already in place you can look deeper for refinements to boost your immunity.

Proper nourishment plays a significant part in boosting your immune system. Consuming the right ratio of macronutrients and choosing nutritionally dense foods goes a long way to keeping your immune system humming along. Moderation is the key to good nutrition. You’re going to want snacks, desserts and possibly an alcoholic beverage along the way. Establishing moderation with high caloric items is always a good path. If you think you’re lacking in your fruit and vegetable intake you may want to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement. If you’re trying to lose weight, make sure you don’t drop your calorie intake too low.

Regular exercise is an essential part of maintaining your immune system. Regular exercise helps your body’s metabolism, improve your cardiovascular system, lower blood pressure and control your body weight. Just like your diet, regular exercise contributes to your body’s overall performance. It improves your circulation and helps maintain limber joints. Too much exercise, however, can wear you out and deplete your body’s nutrients. As with your eating, use moderation as a guide with your exercise.

Sleep is an essential part of your immune system build up. Getting the proper amount of sleep every day is a challenge but well worth the effort. Every system in the body is affected by sleep levels.  Sleep deprivation over time can weaken the immune system and make you more vulnerable to disease. Generally, sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night is recommended and avoid all-nighters.

Stress is another area to manage if you want to build your immune system. Stress affects people in different ways. What’s stressful for one person may not be for someone else. Identifying your stress triggers helps you to learn about your stress and how it affects you. Stress can affect other parts of your lifestyle. Too much stress can make it difficult to sleep, eat properly and exercise. Conversely, managing your stress and even reducing it creates more opportunity for nutrition, exercise and sleep to play a bigger role.

Think of your nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management as one system working together to ward off disease and keep your immune system vibrant and strong.