Exercise with a cold?
February 24, 2005 2:44 AM   Subscribe

If you have caught a slight cold rather than rampant flu, will it do you any harm to continue exercising? Is the answer the same for both aerobic exercise and doing weights?
posted by lunkfish to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
No, it will just make it suck more. But you'll feel the cold less when you're done. Try and do your normal routine but don't feel bad if you can't.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:43 AM on February 24, 2005

When I was running seriously the advice I remember was if your symptoms are above the neck - runny nose, scratchy throat - no problem. It will probably make you feel better. If your symptoms are below the neck - chest congestion, joint pain - rest up for a while.
posted by fixedgear at 4:00 AM on February 24, 2005

The advice I've always been given is that moderate exercise is ok while your in the early stages of a cold, but strenuous exercise should be avoided. Your body is already under strain as it is, and making it devote extra energy to recuperating from exercise when it should be fighting a virus is probably a bad idea.

I have found that a light work out does make me feel better if I'm suffering from a minor cold.
posted by arha at 4:01 AM on February 24, 2005

Fixedgear has it about right. I think the general rule is that you'll be too sick to exercize when you feel too sick to exercize. Upper respiratory things are temporarily (at least) relieved during exercize; anything avec fever, no--but you would know that as soon as you tried.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:37 AM on February 24, 2005

what i've heard (again, no reliable source) is that if muscles ache you shouldn't do aerobic exercise. something about putting undue strain on the heart. i'm pretty sure "the competitive runners handbook" by glover answers this, if you want a reliable source, but i've lent my copy to a friend.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:39 AM on February 24, 2005

lunkfish, if you have a slight cold, then go ahead and exercise.

Your body will tell you whether or not to go ahead with the workout. Two weeks ago I had a terrible flu, and I stayed away from the gym (and work, and daily walks) waiting for the flu to go away.

A cold, on the other hand, can be easier to manage. Bring lots of kleenex if you are going running (esp outdoors). Wash hands before and after your workout if you go to the gym. And listen to what your body says - during and after your workout.
posted by seawallrunner at 7:15 AM on February 24, 2005

you should definitely take it easy, but i understand the impulse -- i get cranky if i don't excercise. some things you certainly should cut on, like swimming -- the chlorine decreases cell motility and doesn't help you get better. light excercise is good, but another thing to remember is the interchange between metabolism and sickness; if you are excercising you naturally need more food, but if you're sick and can't handle this (whether through vomiting or simply lack of appetite) you are in for bigger trouble, because the body will then devote its very precious, hardworking energy to feeding you instead of the immune system response.

but for gods sake man (and i'm speaking to myself now) its ok to take a few days off for your body's good.
posted by yonation at 9:10 AM on February 24, 2005

What yonation said. Your body needs rest, it needs to devote its resources to fighting the virus. If you exercise, you will almost definitely make the duration of the cold longer. Sleep 12 hours every day and by the third day it should be gone. Don't work out until you're 90% better.

I know a guy who gets a cold and it lasts 2 weeks because he refuses to stop going to the gym and staying up late at night. When I get a cold I'm always over it in 3 days.
posted by knave at 10:36 AM on February 24, 2005

Some exercise will be beneficial, as it will move your lymph fluid around, which helps immune system to get its act in gear. I wrote up a bit about this in a previous Ask MeFi thread.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 12:56 PM on February 24, 2005

Thanks. Looks like a bit of light CV exercise is the ticket, but not wearing yourself out.
posted by lunkfish at 3:30 AM on February 25, 2005

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