With so many bugs, colds and flu about, it is very likely that we’ll all suffer at some point. A common question we get from our clients is… should I workout with a cold? So, we thought we’d dedicate a blog post to answer this question. 

When you’re feeling under the weather, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. Making your body work hard when you have a cold isn’t always a good idea. However, in some cases, light to moderate exercise may actually help you to feel better. According to Richard Besser MD. 

Should I workout with a cold, is it advised?

The answer is yes…ish! According to Jessalyn Adam, MD you should follow the ‘neck rule’. It is safe to exercise when all of your symptoms are above the neck. For example; a sore throat, congestion or sneezing. Light to moderate activity is advised. 

When should I avoid working out? 

If your symptoms are below the neck you should avoid exercise. For example, if you are suffering from shortness of breath, coughing, tightness in your chest, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea, you should not exercise. If you have other symptoms like a fever or joint aches then you should also skip your workout. 

How will a cold affect my workout? 

When suffering from a cold your energy levels may be compromised, therefore it is important to listen to your body. However, even a 20-minute walk can help you feel the benefits of exercise, it may also help your cold/flu-like symptoms too. 

If you are attending a class/gym, it is important to think of your fellow gym-goers too. Ensure that you wash your hands, wipe down any equipment that you have used and try to cough or sneeze into your shoulder, rather than your hand. This will help to reduce the risk of spreading your cold to others. 

Which workouts should I do/avoid when having a cold? 

The type of workout you perform whilst having a cold is not as important as the intensity. For example, if you had planned on interval sprints, opt for jogging instead. If your programme says weights, it is ideal to lower the weight and to increase the repetitions. It is also a good idea to take a longer rest period between sets.  

If your sinuses are blocked, walking is a good idea. As it helps to encourage you to take deep breaths, this will aid the unblocking of those passages. However, if you find that walking or physical activity makes you feel worse, stop and focus on rest instead. Although there is little research on exercising with a cold, studies have shown that people who work out regularly tend to get ill less, overall. 

Recommended workouts:

  • A gentle jog, 
  • The stationary bike, 
  • Yoga/stretch, 
  • Bodyweight circuit, 
  • Light weights. 

Workouts to avoid: 

  • Rigorous or long runs, 
  • HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) 
  • Heavy Weights 

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