Thursday, January 27, 2011

Should I Exercise When I Have a Cold?

More and more people I have come into contact with this past week have been coming down with colds or other seasonal illnesses.  Now I know we have talked extensively in previous posts that exercise can reduce the risk of getting sick but are there times where we should stop exercising secondarily to having a cold?  The die-hard runners would say that running helps them feel better and gives them more energy.  This is because exercise can help increase the release of endorphins which are chemicals that help you “feel good”.  But are you prolonging your sickness by working out?  Here are a couple tips on when you should avoid exercising and when it is okay to partake even when battling a cold:

Generally it is okay to continue to workout if your symptoms are above the neck.  The “neck check” includes1:
·         Runny nose
·         Nasal congestion
·         Sneezing
·         Sore throat

In other cases where you have symptoms below the neck it advised that you hold off from your exercise regimen.  The “below the neck check” includes1:

·         Chest congestion
·         Hacking cough
·         Nausea or upset stomach
·         High fever
·         Fatigue
·         Body and muscle aches

Working out with congestion in your lungs or with a fever can exacerbate your symptoms.  On the other hand the endorphins released from cardiovascular workouts can actually help reduce nasal and head congestion. Be smart about your exercise routine; workout to reduce the chance of getting sick but be sure to know when to stop as well.