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Can you exercise with a cold? Find out the risks and advice

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To train, or not to train – that is the question! In other words, is it good to exercise with a cold? There tends to be two types of people when it comes to exercising with a cold: those that feel like they have to plough on no matter what; and those that believe they could do more damage by doing so. Make an informed decision for yourself with our advice on working out with a cold.

If you do decide to exercise, keep a pack of Cushelle Pocket Pack Tissues with you to catch coughs and sneezes, and gently dab at a runny nose without making it sore.

Potential risks of exercising with a cold

So, should you exercise with a cold? Before you decide yes or no, it’s important to identify some of the potential risks, which include:

  • Making symptoms worse.
  • Compromising your immune system further.
  • A cold or flu turning into something more serious, particularly a more severe respiratory illness.
  • Slowing down recovery time.
  • Taking longer to return to full training.

When you should not exercise with a cold

While it’s certainly ok to consider exercising with a cold, there are certain times you definitely shouldn’t, including when:

  • You have a productive, chesty cough – the general rule is that it’s ok to train with cold and flu symptoms above the neck, but not below.
  • You have a fever of above 100.4°F or 38°C.
  • You’re extremely tired.
  • You have stomach symptoms along with your cold.
  • You have an underlying medical condition.

Potential benefits of working out with a cold

Now we’ve covered some of the potential downsides, it’s time for the good news for those who want a positive answer to the question, ‘should you exercise with a cold?’

The important thing to remember is that it’s ok to try if you feel that you can; if none of the above symptoms are present; and if you have no underlying medical conditions. If you’re in any doubt, you should consult your doctor first.

When it’s safe to do so, working out with a cold can:

  • Help lift your mood.
  • Give your immune system a boost. Activity helps white cell production, which fights illness.
  • Ease congestion. As long as you’re hydrated, exercise can help unblock your airways.
  • Increase energy. Rest is really important when you have a cold, but even a short walk can help give you a little boost.

Tips for working out with a cold

If you feel like you can train, here are some top tips to help you do so safely and effectively:

  • Consider shortening your workouts.
  • Drop the weight a little if strength training.
  • Stop if you start to feel bad or exhausted (outside of the usual exercise feelings).
  • Listen to your body at all times – it’ll tell you when you need to stop.
  • Start off slow and/or light and build up, that way you’ll find the right level without taxing yourself early on in the session.
  • Stay hydrated – before, during and after.
  • Think carefully, even more than usual, about the appropriate clothing you need for your workouts.

We’ll end with our original question; is it good to exercise with a cold? The simple, most helpful answer is that it completely depends on the individual situation and how you feel. Now that you’re more informed you can be honest with yourself and choose the most appropriate decision for you.


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