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Exercising when you have a cold: Yay or Nay?

I can feel myself getting a pesky cold.  I feel slightly sluggish, my nose is running, and my throat is tender (but not as bad as before my tonsillectomy!)  I am blaming it on a combination of sitting outside on a cold and freezing evening to watch a baseball game last Friday as well as working out at a new gym with new germs.  I always get frustrated when I get a cold after restarting a workout routine.  I fear that I will never make it back to the gym on a regular basis without the annoyance of winded and weak days due to inactivity.

I’ve done some quick research about exercising when having a cold because I wanted to know if it’s a good idea to stop at the gym after work, or if I should stay cuddled at home with my cats and drinking tea and soup.  I’ve decided both are in order to get through this annoying common cold.

Good ol’ WebMd states that because exercise helps boost your immune system, exercising while you have a cold is a good idea as long as you listen to your body.  Mayo Clinic Doctor Laskowki makes a good call recommending low intensity and shorter length workouts for “above the neck” signs (runny nose, minor sore throat, sneezing) versus no exercise for “below the neck” symptoms (chest congestion, hacking cough or upset stomach).     In agreement with all the research I’ve stumbled upon, I plan to listen to my tired and weak body and do some light cardio (walking on a treadmill for 20 minutes vs. running on a elliptical for 30) and light lifting (15 minutes instead of 20-30 minutes).   Stretching and strengthening always makes me feel better, so I like to leave that part of my workout routine for last.  Hopefully I won’t fall asleep while laying on the mat.  I also plan to wipe down the machines BEFORE and AFTER use and Purell the crap out of myself. DIE GERMS DIE!!!

High intensity and excessive cardio and strengthening can possibly increase the cold length or cause it to turn into something worse (chest cold may become bronchitis), so if you are working out and you get winded sooner than normal or feel especially sluggish, stop and don’t push yourself until you feel 100% healthy.  As always, health and safety first!

When Should You Call the Doctor About Exercise and Colds?

If you exercise with a cold and have any of the following symptoms, it’s important to stop and call your doctor:

  • Increased chest congestion
  • Coughing and/or wheezing

Stop and seek emergency medical help if you have:

  • Chest tightness or pressure
  • Trouble breathing or excessive shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Difficulty with balance

(Resource:  WebMD)


About Pretty Patina Photography

I am passionate about vegetarianism, exercise and movement, yoga, cats, media, meditation, abandoned locations, and libraries.

One response »

  1. I’m in the same boat as you ! I was gonna go to spin after work, but felt way too weak. Then I was gonna go for a walk, but it didn’t happen(I procrastinated!) I will try and do a light home workout here, a DVD or something. I had been eating so healthy until tonight(carne asada, taco tues.!):) but yeah, flood with fluids, see how you feel each day. Tomorrow ill try and make it to the gym, but not my regular hard HIIT, just something light.


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