Even if you’re showing the signs & symptoms of a winter cold it’s good to know you can still workout.
When you’re feeling slightly unwell, exercise can make you feel better. Keeping your exercise sessions below 60 minutes can boost your immune system, which is probably why people often feel better afterwards.
However, if you have the flu then you’ll struggle to get out of bed, let alone exercise so this is the time to rest, rest and rest. Only once your symptoms have subsided for at least 3 days should you think about getting back to exercise.
Am I well enough to exercise?
If your cold symptoms are above the neck (runny nose, sneezing etc) it’s OK to continue with moderate exercise.
Should your symptoms include:
- Below the neck issues including joint pain, chesty cough, etc
- Faintness / dizziness
- Tight chest
…then you need to rest until your symptoms have subsided. You can then start back with low to moderate exercise. Don’t return to intense exercise until 3 days after your symptoms have gone. If you have full-blown flu then you might have to take up to 2 weeks off intense training. Rest is key to your recovery, you don’t want to put extra stress on your body.
Should you have any other medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease etc., then you should always check with your doctor as to whether exercising with a cold will affect your pre-existing conditions.
What type of exercise should I do with a cold?
It’s fine to carry on with your regular workouts but now’s not the time to try something new or try to break records. Traditional advice dictates that if you have a simple cold without a fever, then it is generally safe to continue with moderate exercise; aiming to keep your workouts less than 60 minutes.
Scientists use the technical term hormesis when referring to exercise & the immune system’s response. In short, a low to moderate dose of exercise can increase your immune function after exercise, whereas a high dose of prolonged exercise (90+ minutes) or intense exercise decreases the effectiveness of the immune system.
I’ve got a cold. Is there an exercise plan I can follow?
Yes. Using a moderate loaded weight, this plan will workout your whole body allowing you to maintain your fitness & strength gains without aggravating your symptoms.
- 3x6 Swiss Ball Press Up
- 3x6 Single Leg Swiss Ball Leg Curl
- 3x6 Goblet Squat
- 3x6 BB bent over row
- 3 x 1000m upright bike – 2 minute rest between each set – moderate pace
- 15 minute brisk walk (on a slight incline)
If you experience chest pain, difficulty catching your breath, wheezing or feeling feint whilst exercising then you should stop immediately.
How can I prevent passing my cold on to others?
There are a few basic ‘gym etiquette’ actions that will help prevent germs spreading at the gym:
- Cover your mouth when coughing & sneezing
- Throw away used tissues
- Wash your hands before & after your workout
- Wipe down any gym equipment you use
Top Tips to help prevent catching a cold
- Eat a clean, well balanced diet - proper nutrition does wonders for your immune system
- Keep external stress to a minimum
- Get at least 7 hours sleep per night
- Calorie restriction can lower your immune system - in some studies having carbs before & after exercise has been shown to help your immune system
- During the winter months wash your hands / use hand gel - the majority of cold viruses are passed via touch and hand to mouth contact