To work out or not to work out? For someone dealing with a cold, that is often the question.
If you’re looking for a safe way to prevent colds, regular exercise may be the ticket. Moderate activity is all you need. Exercise improves your overall fitness, which can help boost your immune system, the body’s defense against infections. Some studies show that “moderate intensity” exercise may cut down the number of colds you get.
Some physical activity when you’re sick can be alright, but there are times when exercise can make things worse. Here’s what medical experts advise us!
It’s usually safe to do it as long as you listen to your body. You’ll need to watch out for certain risky situations. When your cold comes with a fever, exercise could stress your body even more. So wait a few days to get back to your regular exercise program. You must know that too much exercise may increase colds.
Also be careful about working out too hard when you have a cold. It can make you feel worse and slow down your recovery. Your immune system works best when it isn’t stressed. Scientists say athletes who train intensely without building in recovery time are more likely to get colds or flu.
If you have: runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat, only then it is safe to exercise at low intensity levels. But, if you have: fever, sore muscles dry cough, vomiting, diarrhea, then exercise not recommended. Resume more intense physical activity when cold or infection is gone.
Note: As your symptoms diminish, ease back into your exercise with caution. Start out gently to see how you feel, and if the body responds well, gradually increase the intensity and duration over a few days. Avoid jumping straight back into your old level of effort. Modify your intensity until all the symptoms have completely disappeared.
Best and worst exercises to do when you have a cold
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:
Best: walking, jogging, yoga, dancing
Just a 20-minute walk can help you reap the benefits of regular exercise, and it may help improve your cold symptoms, as well. Running is a natural decongestant, and it can help clear your head and feel normal again.
Worst: endurance running, lifting weights, team sports, high intensity aerobic training
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. Immune function may be compromised for up to 24 hours after prolonged, continuous exercise (1.5 hours or longer).
High intensity exercise such as heavy weight lifting or high intensity aerobic training has been shown to have a negative impact on the immune system during a cold or any respiratory infection.