Winter Colds: How to Boost your Immune System

March 22, 2023
5 min read

Coughs, colds and even the odd sniffle… Whichever it is, feeling a bit under the weather can be a real nuisance. Unfortunately, the lockdowns and restrictions of the last few years have meant that many people are suffering from weakened immune systems. This results in more people picking up ailments such as viruses and the common cold much easier (and much more frequently) than usual.

The human body’s immune system is a complex range of cells that can protect you from getting sick, so if you’re struggling with a weakened immune system, it’s likely that you’re a bit more vulnerable to illnesses that the people around you seem to fight away. It’s for this reason that many people find themselves researching healthy and natural ways to boost their immune systems, especially during the winter months. 

As there’s been an array of illnesses floating around recently, we’ve decided to dive into some of the ways that you can naturally boost your immune system. It’s important to note that we’re not health experts, so if something feels off then it’s best to consult a healthcare professional. 

The benefits of open water swimming

If you’re unfamiliar with the world of wild swimming, it’s likely that you’ve never even considered donning a wetsuit and a bobble hat and taking a dip in some open water near you. However, aside from being a fantastic way to relax, immerse yourself in nature and get fit, open water swimming is also extremely beneficial to the human immune system. 

This is because open water such as our beautiful sandy-bottomed lake is much cooler in temperature than the heated swimming pools most swimmers are used to, so when you step in your body feels shocked. This feeling of shock means that your body then produces more white blood cells to protect you, which, in turn, gives your immune system a boost. Other benefits of cold water swimming include reduced feelings of stress, improved focus and better blood circulation.

Fancy trying open water swimming, but based in busy central London? Our wild swimming lake is in the heart of Surrey, so when you need a bit of a break from city life, pop down to Godstone Reservoir for a refreshing dip.

Make getting a good night’s sleep a part of your regular routine

Struggling with disrupted sleep or - even worse - insomnia? Whilst missing out on your 40 winks can feel stressful enough, unfortunately, this can also have a negative impact on your immune system and make you more susceptible to picking up illnesses. 

Fortunately, one of the many benefits of wild swimming is that it can help you get a better night’s sleep. Whilst you might think that plunging into cold water would have the opposite effect, the adrenaline rush of your changing body temperature combined with the fantastic workout of swimming can help to tire you out. 

So, next time you need a better night’s kip, you might want to consider a dip in the cooling waters of your local open water swimming lake. 

Does exercise boost your immune system?

The answer is yes, regular exercise is beneficial to your body and mind, helping you to lead a healthier lifestyle. Exercise gets your heart pumping which improves blood circulation around your body, which, in turn, helps your immune system. 

Looking for ways to get fit without putting strain on your joints? 

Swimming is a great way to get a workout and is often recommended to those with health conditions as it is low-impact, but still burns calories and builds endurance. Here at Divers Cove, we have members with all kinds of fitness goals - from those who simply want to get active to those who are training for races such as triathlons

Not sure if indoor swimming is for you? We get it. Not everyone likes the restrictive feeling of swimming pools, which is where wild swimming comes in! 

We think that there’s nothing quite like the feeling of fully immersing yourself in nature whilst enjoying a refreshing swim in the cooling waters of our lake. And, as we mentioned earlier, cold water exposure can help to further boost your immune system - so next time you fancy a dip, try visiting an open water swimming venue near you. 

Can stress have a negative impact on your immune system?

Unfortunately, yes. Whilst feeling stressed mentally and emotionally is bad enough alone, this can also impact your physical health if it gets out of hand. This is because stress can decrease the body’s lymphocytes, the tissues that help to defend you against illness. 

Practising meditation and mindfulness can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and is also extremely beneficial for your health as it can calm your nervous system and improve sleep hygiene. Meditation typically involves sitting still and concentrating on the present moment, whilst mindfulness is the practice of being completely in the present moment, regardless of where you are. Due to the cool temperatures, the waters of our lake are a great place to practise mindfulness as you swim as your body and mind focus solely on adapting to the water temperature. 

Whether you choose to walk, run, cycle or swim, spending time in nature is also extremely beneficial to your mental health as it can soothe anxious thoughts and feelings of stress. 

How food can help

We’ve all found ourselves turning to things like orange juice and chicken soup when ill, but what about a diet that can benefit your immune system in the long term? Following a balanced, healthy diet with plenty of fruit and veg can boost your immune system as your body will be getting the nutrients it requires.

The health benefits of sauna sessions

If you’ve visited us before, you’ve probably spotted our lakeside wooden sauna pods. Aside from being a relaxing pastime, saunas actually boast a number of health benefits, including being beneficial for your immune system when combined with dips in cold water. 

This is a tradition in Finland and is more commonly referred to as contrast therapy, a practice that involves combining hot and cold as you go from the heat of the sauna into cold water, which can improve circulation and boost your immune system. 

The Wim Hof Method

Those who’ve researched cold water exposure will most likely know all about Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman. The Wim Hof Method of repeated cold exposure with breathing techniques boasts various benefits including improved immune function. 

Whilst Wim Hof himself tends to practise in pools of ice cold water, his clever breathing techniques can also be used whilst open water swimming or even in cold showers.

Brighter days are coming… 

We hope that you’ve found our tips for boosting your immune system helpful. But, if you’re tired of suffering with the sniffles then we’d just like to remind you that warmer weather and longer days are right around the corner - we’re most certainly on a countdown to the start of our 2023 summer season

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