To exercise or not to exercise? For someone who is dealing with a common cold, that is often the question that goes through their minds on a loop. Although forcing your way through a run or a salsa class could make you feel fabulous on a normal day, it may not seem like the very best idea when you have a runny nose and a cough. The most essential thing is to stay flexible with your exercise routine.
Colds and other minor ailments are bound to throw you off your game at one point or another. Since you’re going to need to deal with your associated symptoms anyway, you should have a game plan in order to decide when it’s serious enough to pause your routine.
Mild to moderate physical activity is usually OK if you have a common cold and no fever. Exercise may even help you feel better by opening your nasal passages and temporarily relieving nasal congestion.
Is It Safe To Exercise With A Cold?
It’s typically safe to exercise if you have a cold as long as you listen to your body. You’ll have to watch out for some risky situations. Physical activity boosts your heart rate but so too can some cold medicines. This means that a combination of exercise and decongestants can result in your heart pumping very hard. As a result, you could become short of breath as well as having trouble breathing.
If you have asthma in addition to a cold, make sure that you speak with your doctor before you exercise as this activity may cause you to cough and wheeze more. In turn, this may make you short of breath. When your cold comes along with a fever, exercise may stress your body even more. So wait a few days in order to get back to your regular exercise programme.
In addition, be careful about working out too hard when you are suffering from a cold. This is because it could make you feel worse and slow down your recovery.
If Your Symptoms Are Concentrated Above the Neck
For symptoms which are isolated above your neck — think congestion, sore throat or the sneezing of a common cold — you may continue with light or moderate activity. Try take a non-drowsy decongestant which will help fight your symptoms. If your energy levels feel good enough, head to the gym. Just be careful of how intense your workout is.
Also, think about your fellow gym-goers. Make sure that you wash your hands, wipe down your equipment after using it, and cough or sneeze into your shoulder (opposed to your hand) in order to reduce the risk of spreading your germs to others.
If you begin to feel worse, hold down on your intensity a notch or end your workout early so that you don’t make your illness worse. When you feel better, get back to your normal routine gradually. Diving back into intense exercise — especially when you’re not feeling 100% — can actually suppress your immune system, which may slow your recovery.
If you decide to exercise with a cold, call your doctor if you notice:
- Your chest is more congested.
- You cough and wheeze.
Stop your activity and seek emergency medical help if you:
- Feel chest tightness or pressure
- Have trouble breathing or get very short of breath
- Get lightheaded or dizzy
- Have problems with balance
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