Exercise – should you do it when you have a cold?

exercise and colds

It’s that time of year when colds and flu are thriving, and I get asked this question more and more, “should I exercise if I have a cold?”.

So here’s my view on exercising when you have a cold…

Happy and healthy

Exercise has a number of benefits including:

  • giving you more energy
  • burning off those extra calories consumed during winter and Christmas.
  • combats Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • improving sleep
  • supporting a stronger Immune System

If you have a chronic long-term condition exercise can be especially beneficial. Check with your doctor to find out how exercise might help.

Where does it hurt?

First things first, where are your symptoms?

As a general rule, I’ve found that if you only have symptoms above the neck (runny nose etc) then it’s probably alright to exercise. Your body is fighting an infection and repairing itself, so go easy and reduce the intensity if you choose to exercise.

If you have symptoms below the neck (fever, chest infection, stomach problems etc) then do not exercise.  Furthermore, the NHS recommend you should not exercise if you have a temperature above 38oC (100.4oF).

Listen to your body and let it guide you.

Slow it down, other types of exercise

Remember there’s lots of different things you can do to keep fit. You don’t need to smash your one rep max, or run for 10miles if you’re not feeling 100%. Consider adapting your session or trying something different instead. Here are some other things to consider trying:

  • Stretching
  • Foam Rolling
  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Pilates
  • Meditation and relaxation
  • Use the session to reassess or set goals
  • Retest your body composition

Another thing to consider is your fellow gym users. If you have a cold there is the real possibility you can pass it on to others in the gym. Exercise referral schemes are becoming more popular, and people with chronic conditions such as COPD are now using gyms regularly. Catching a cold can cause greater complications for people living with some conditions, so this is something to think about.

The good news is the majority of actives shown above can be performed at home. No need to pass it your cold on, or catch another!

Remember to hydrate!

Dehydration can be a big problem, particularly when you’re not well. It’s important to make sure you are getting plenty of fluids when you exercise. Furthermore, if you’re congested dehydration can make the congestion worse.

I use hydration packs from the vegan certified Arbonne PhytoSport range. They contain a blend of electrolytes to replace those lost when sweating. Vitamin C to support the immune system. Plus a blend of 3 botanicals – cayenne, ginseng and turmeric to help provide a natural energy boost. This product is also certified by Informed Sport, so it’s free from any banned substances!

For more information about the PhytoSport range please contact me.

Phytosport hydration

Arbonne Complete Hydration

Final thoughts

It’s up to you if you exercise when you have a cold or feel unwell. If you do decide to remember these key points:

  • Where are your symptoms?
  • Let your body guide you
  • What type of exercise can you do instead?
  • Think about your fellow gym buddies
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!!!!

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