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Cold Plunge Therapy for Winter Bug Defense

When it comes to staying healthy during winter, ice baths might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Most people think that exposure to cold temperatures makes us more susceptible to colds and flu. However, growing research suggests that regular cold plunge therapy can actually enhance your immune system and help stave off winter illnesses.

The Science Behind Ice Baths and Immunity

Cold water exposure and Reduced Sick Leave

A pivotal study conducted in 2016 examined the effects of cold showers on illness-related absenteeism. Participants were asked to switch from hot showers to cold showers for one month and report any sick leave they took during this period. The results were compelling: those who took cold showers required 29% less sick leave than those who didn’t. While this doesn’t necessarily mean they got sick less often, it does suggest that their symptoms were milder, allowing them to function better despite being ill.

Boosting Blood Cells and Immune Response

Another significant study, “Effect of winter swimming on hematological parameters,” observed athletes who swam in icy water. Researchers found a notable increase in red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets after their cold swims. These blood cells play crucial roles in immune function, suggesting that cold water immersion could bolster the body’s defense mechanisms.

Regulating Immune Response

A 2014 Dutch study explored the ability of people to regulate their immune response through meditation, deep breathing, and cold water immersion through ice baths. The findings showed that these practices could increase the production of anti-inflammatory mediators and reduce proinflammatory cytokine responses. This has significant implications for treating conditions associated with chronic inflammation, including autoimmune diseases.

Comprehensive Hydrotherapy Benefits

The 2014 review, “Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body,” highlighted numerous benefits of cold water exposure. One of the most striking claims was that daily brief cold-water immersion over several months could enhance antitumor immunity and improve survival rates for certain cancers. While more research is needed, this underscores the potential health benefits of regular cold exposure.

How to Optimize Your Immunity with Ice Baths

Getting Started with Ice Baths

For those new to cold plunge therapy, starting with a water temperature of around 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) a few times a week is recommended. As you become more accustomed to the cold, you can gradually lower the temperature and increase the frequency of your plunges. This gradual approach helps your body acclimate to the cold, enhancing your immune system without causing undue stress.

Equipment for Safe Cold Plunging

To consistently benefit from cold immersion, you need a reliable way to chill water. Products like the Compact Cool chiller and the inflatable IceOne Bath from iCoolsport are perfect for both beginners and experienced users. These tools allow you to set and maintain your desired water temperature easily, ensuring a safe and effective cold plunge experience.

Best Practices for Cold Plunge Therapy

  1. Start Slowly: Begin with shorter sessions in water at 8-10 degrees and gradually work your way down to colder temperatures.
  2. Monitor Duration: Keep your sessions to 5 minutes or less to avoid overexposure.
  3. Listen to Your Body: If you feel overly uncomfortable or experience any adverse effects, shorten your session or raise the water temperature.
  4. Get coached: Consider doing your first cold plunge with an ice bath coach to get the most out of the session and stay safe.


Incorporating cold plunge therapy into your routine can be a powerful way to boost your immune system and fight off winter bugs. With the right approach and equipment, you can safely enjoy the many health benefits that come with regular cold water immersion. For more tips and products to support your cold plunge journey, explore our blog and online store.

Stay healthy and resilient this winter with the power of cold plunge therapy at our ice bath studio right in the heart of Auckland! Book your session now.