• 10 surprising secrets to boost your winter health

    Worried about catching a cold this winter? We’ve found 10 simple, but surprising, ways to help maintain your immune system and ward off colds, flu and stomach bugs all season.

  • 1. Tidy your desk

    Do you hotdesk, or share a workstation? Give your desk a wipe down; cold viruses can survive on indoor surfaces for more than seven days! Most cold viruses are passed on through hand-to-hand contact, so clean any shared keyboards and telephones with sanitising wipes.

  • 2. Step out at lunchtime

    Popping outside during your lunch hour can boost production of vitamin D, reducing your risk of catching a cold. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found the sunshine vitamin could activate T-cells in the body, the ones that seek out and destroy infections. So more sunshine = less sniffles.

  • 3. Get a good night’s sleep

    A lack of zzzs can weaken your immune system, lowering your body’s defences. A study by Carnegie Mellon University found getting less than seven hours a night nearly triples your chances of catching a cold.

  • 4. Dry your hands properly

    Washing our hands is vital to prevent spreading viruses, but how we dry them is just as important. Evidence from the University of Bradford reveals wiping still-wet fingers on your clothes or rubbing hands together under a dryer can increase the amount of bacteria by nearly 20 per cent! Paper towels or hand dryers that strip away water are most effective keeping your hands bug-free.

  • 5. Take echinacea

    Echinacea is a traditional herbal medicinal product, used to relieve symptoms of common colds and influenza type infections. Now the largest ever study into its effectiveness proves it works. Experts from the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff found taking three daily doses over four months cut the number of recurrent colds by 60 per cent.

  • 6. Practice mindfulness meditation

    Did you know mindfulness can also fight flu? A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found eight weeks of mindfulness training helped people produce significantly more flu-fighting antibodies than those who didn’t mediate. It’s time to get your ohm on…

  • 7. Avoid the ibuprofen

    Experts say we should use paracetamol rather than ibuprofen when fighting cold and flu symptoms like a headache. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory, but inflammation could be your body’s way of fighting off infection – if you dampen down this response, you could prolong the time it takes you recover.

  • 8. Wear gloves on the bus

    Apart from keeping your hands warm, a pair of gloves could cut your risk of catching the norovirus – the winter vomiting bug. The bug is spread by poor hygiene; those infected don’t wash their hands properly after going to the toilet, but then touch door handles, bus bells, or lift buttons. Nearly 25 per cent of commuters are believed to have faecal bacteria on their hands, so wearing gloves could protect you from picking up this nasty illness.

  • 9. Have the flu jab

    Those in at-risk groups, such as anyone over the age of 65 or pregnant women, can get the flu jab free from their GP. But for those not in at-risk groups, the situation is less clear-cut. Why not take our quiz to work out if you should have the jab this winter?

  • 10. Wear your Hunter boots to work

    Apart from protecting your feet from muddy puddles, wearing wellies could stop you catching a cold. Research by the Common Cold Centre found those who suffered from wet, chilly, feet caught twice as many colds the following week compared with those who stayed warm and dry. It’s thought chilling the feet causes blood vessels in the nose to constrict, lowering our immune system and allowing cold viruses to multiply.

    Want more ways to boost your immunity? We’ve got lots of advice on staying well all winter.