Working out with a cold
If you’re feeling under the weather, exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing—and it’s true that when your body’s already under a lot of stress, making it do more work isn’t always a good idea. But in some cases, light to moderate activity may actually help you feel better.
Listen to your body, and consider the following best (and worst) workout options.
Having a cold may compromise your energy levels, so you may not feel up for intense physical fitness. But even just a 20-minute walk can help you reap the benefits of regular exercise, and it may help improve your cold symptoms, as well.
If your sinuses are plugged up it is better then to walk and stimulate deep breathing but if you find yourself getting worse then it is better to focus on getting a rest
Although there’s little research on how exercise can affect the duration of a cold, studies have shown that people who regularly work out tend to get sick less, overall
As long as jogging is part of your regular routine, there’s no reason you need to skip it just because of a mild head cold.Running is a natural decongestant, and it can help clear your head and feel normal again but is always better to scale it back
This type of slow, mindful movement is a cross between martial arts and meditation. It’s low-intensity enough for days that you don’t feel like breaking a serious sweat, and it has been used for thousands of years to reduce stress and anxiety, improve blood flow, and increase energy. (In Chinese medicine, this is known as regulating and healing the body’s “chi,” or energy force.)
Worst: Endurance Running
Training for a marathon? Skip this weekend’s long run if you’re sick—even if you’re already getting over, or just feel yourself coming down with, a cold. In general, regular exercise stimulates the immune system and helps keep us healthy but too much regular exercise at a high intensity can have the opposite effect.
The body releases the stress hormone cortisol while it’s fighting infections like the common cold, and research suggests that stress-relieving techniques—such as yoga and breathing exercises—may help boost immunity. gentle stretching may help relieve aches and pains related to colds and sinus infections.
Choose a slower style of practice, like Hatha or Iyengar yoga, if you’re worried about overdoing it with vigorous sun salutations. Or focus on restorative postures, like Child’s Pose and Legs Up the Wall, at home.
Taking a Zumba or cardio dance class—or even just rocking out to your favorite tunes while you clean the house—can serve as a stress-reduction technique. In fact, one study found that people who just listened to 50 minutes of dance music had less cortisol and more cold-fighting antibodies—a sure boost to their immune systems.
Dance classes tend to be low impact, so you can break a sweat without putting too much stress on your joints (or aggravating a cold-related sinus headache). You can go at your own pace, as well: Take it easy on days you’re not feeling 100 percent, and try to just enjoy the party.
Worst: Lifting Weights
Your strength and performance will reduce be diminished while you’re battling a cold, says especially if you’ve missed out on quality sleep—putting you at increased risk for injury while trying to lift heavy equipment. Plus, the muscle strain required to lift weights can cause sinus pressure and headaches to feel even worse, he adds.
Still don’t want to skip a strength workout? Do it at home, where you won’t be spreading germs and sharing your sickness with other weight lifters, and give yourself a break by using lighter dumbbells than usual. (Increase your reps, not the weight, if you need more of a challenge.
Best or Worst: Swimming and Biking
Like walking and jogging, other forms of moderate cardio can help clear congestion and boost energy levels, but they won’t work for everyone. It’s really a matter of personal preference, what type of symptoms you have, and what your normal routine is like
Swimming, for example, can feel quite refreshing, and may help open up airways. (For people who suffer from allergies, it can also help by washing away pollen and dust.) But some people may find it difficult to breathe while congested, or may be irritated by chlorinated waters. Biking can also be a nice, moderate exercise, but may dry out nasal passages and increase symptoms like sore throat and runny nose.
Worst: Team Sports
Just like using the treadmill or weight machines at the gym, playing sports that involve physical contact can encourage the spread of illness. “If you’re a pro athlete, then your coaches and teammates may expect you to be out there no matter what.
Cold and flu viruses spread through droplets, like tears and saliva—but also through hand-to-hand contact, he adds.
Worst: Anything Outdoors in the Cold
Working out in freezing temps may be detrimental to some people battling cold symptoms, but not for the reason you may think. Contrary to popular belief, cold weather in itself will not lower immunity or cause you to get sick—not even if you go outside without a coat or you sweat so much your hair gets wet.
What can happen, however, is that cold, dry air can restrict or irritate airways—triggering a runny nose, coughing, or asthma-like symptoms
Plus: What about allergies?
Sometimes, what people think of as recurring cold symptoms—sneezing, headaches, nasal congestion—are actually allergies in disguise. “If you find that you are seeing those symptoms come on at the same time each year, you might want to ask your doctor about getting tested.
Allergies to pollen and ragweed can make outdoor exercise difficult in the spring and fall, he adds, while allergies to dust, mold or harsh cleaners can be triggered by workouts at the gym or in other enclosed spaces. If you can pinpoint the cause of your symptoms, an antihistamine or other treatment can likely help you get back to your normal life—and your normal workout routine.