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Encouraging Prospective Hajj Pilgrims to be Healthy and Free from Covid-19

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By: Riswandi Fauzi)*

The government will dispatch Indonesian pilgrims in line with the opening of the Hajj season by the Government of Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, prospective pilgrims are expected to continue to maintain their health and have followed a complete vaccine to be free from Covid-19.

The first flying group (kloter) of Indonesian Hajj pilgrims will depart from June 4, 2022. In addition to paying off the 2022 hajj fees, pilgrims who will depart for Hajj must be in good health, including free from the Corona virus and have been injected with a full dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Consumption of nutritious food is one way to keep the immune system strong and healthy.

Of course there are several things that can be done by pilgrims in order to perform the pilgrimage optimally.

First, increase endurance by increasing physical activity, especially by exercising regularly and measurably. Sport is an activity that can be done to improve physical and mental health. On the other hand, exercise is also a great way to boost the immune system.

The journal Nutrition has published an article explaining that the intensity and duration of exercise are closely related to the function of various components of the immune system. Researchers from the journal Sport Medicine also compiled the results of several studies and concluded that regular exercise can reduce the risk of contracting infectious diseases by 31 percent.

In particular, exercise helps recruit highly specialized immune cells, such as natural killer cells and T cells, in finding pathogens such as viruses and eliminating them.

Usually a person has only a small number of immune cells circulating throughout the body. These cells prefer to gather in lymphoid tissues and organs, such as the spleen, where the body kills viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms that cause disease.

Exercise is an effective way to increase blood and lymph flow when muscles contract, and it will also increase the circulation of immune cells. As a result this will make it explore the body at a higher speed in higher numbers.

Of course the duration of exercise also needs to be considered, if exercise is a new habit, of course the required duration is 10 minutes every 2-4 times a day. Then increase the intensity to get more optimal training results.

Second, prospective pilgrims also need to increase their endurance by having quality sleep hours. Adequate sleep is also a factor that cannot be ignored in an effort to maintain immunity.

A good nap helps balance the levels of hormones and cytokines that are responsible for regulating the inflammatory response in the body. Several animal studies have also shown that interactions between immune signaling molecules and brain neurochemistry are significantly increased during infection.

This suggests that we tend to sleep differently when we are sick. Researchers suggest that during an infection, these sleep changes help our bodies to recover more quickly.

Third, the next way that is no less important is managing stress, a brief stress attack can indeed help us survive in dangerous situations.

But when that stress becomes chronic, it can have a serious impact on our physical health. The journal Brain and Behavior once published an article containing conclusions from researchers who said that chronic stress severely disrupts immune system signals and increases inflammation levels in the body.

Research also shows that stress reduction interventions have a direct impact on the body’s susceptibility to infection. For example, several studies have shown that engaging in mindfulness meditation can result in decreased markers of inflammation and increased immune signaling.

Excessive stress or walking for too long will make the body tired and eventually weaken the supply of adrenaline hormones and lower the body’s immune system.

These three steps are an effort that prospective pilgrims can take to stay healthy while performing the pilgrimage in the Holy Land. Moreover, Hajj is a worship that requires excellent physical health, so maintaining health is something that needs to be done so that the Hajj can be done solemnly.

)* The author is a contributor to the Nusa Bangsa Institute

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