If you’re dedicated to your fitness routine or hit the gym on a consistent basis, coming down with a cold may be enough to derail your workouts indefinitely. But do you really need to abandon the exercise ship at the first sign of some sniffling or sinus congestion? Before you throw in the towel, consider these tips when choosing to exercise with a cold.
Find out what kind of illness you have
First, it is important that you determine whether you have a cold or the flu. A cold is considered to present symptoms above the neck only. If you experience symptoms such as fever, extreme tiredness, muscle aches and/or swollen lymph glands, you more likely have the flu and your immune system will need all the energy it can get to do its job. If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, it is recommended that you wait two to four weeks prior to performing any form of intense exercise. If you are not sure if you have the flu or a cold, consult your physician.
According to both ACE (American Council on Exercise) and ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), it is fine to perform moderate intensity exercise while suffering from a cold. Studies are cited to indicate that moderate intense exercise temporarily boosts your immune system by 50 to 300 percent. And, when not already ill, exercise reduces your chances of catching a cold. Prevention is the best medicine after all.
Exercise with caution
If you decide to take on a moderate exercise routine while dealing with a cold, be sure you stop immediately if you experience coughing, wheezing or an increase in congestion. Although it does seem to be OK to take on moderate exercise when you have a cold, there is no apparent effect on the duration or severity of the common cold. Doing some light exercise may just make you feel better psychologically in knowing that you are taking steps to minimize the setbacks being down with a cold could have on your physical fitness.