Exercise with the Common Cold

So many of my patients over the last few weeks have been unable to attend their exercise sessions due to colds and flu. It can get confusing to know when you should exercise and when it is best to let your body rest and recover. There is a very simple symptom rule to follow when deciding if you should exercise:

If it’s above the neck – go ahead, if it’s below the neck – take it slow.

 Above the neck symptoms (It’s OK to exercise):

·       Runny nose

·       Sneezing

·       Nasal congestion

·       Watery eyes

·       Sore throat

Below the neck symptoms (have a rest today):

·       Fever

·       Swollen glands.

·       Nausea / Vomiting / Diarrhoea

·       Congested or tight chest

·       Body aches and fatigue

If you do decide it’s OK to exercise, it is a good idea to make sure you stay well hydrated and reduce the intensity until all your symptoms have subsided. Often light to moderate exercise can actually clear nasal congestion giving you temporary relief. For the sake of those around you, please practice good hygiene by washing your hands, wiping down equipment after use and coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the crook of your elbow.

“Sweating it out” is not recommended as this will just dehydrate your body, slowing your recovery. There has been no evidence to suggest that this is an effective method of reducing symptoms or duration of a cold or flu. When we have fevers, our body is fighting an infection. It is best to allow it to do it’s job to get you back on your feet as soon as possible.

Regular physical activity will help to keep you fit and well and reduce the incidence of a cold, but if you do find yourself unwell listen to your body and allow it to recover.  

Rachel Morgan-Varlow