Should you exercise with a cold?

Should you exercise with a cold?

If you are feeling sick because of the weather changes, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. It thus makes perfect sense to know that also that you should not work harder when your body is already under stress. In this context, it holds that light to moderate activity may help you feel better in some cases.

Dr. Richard Besser, the Chief Health and Medical Editor at ABC News, suggests his Neck Rule. According to him, working out could be beneficial for you if you are suffering from common cough and cold, sinus pressure, stuffy nose, or even flu. Please note that some good workout options can play a positive role in curing the disease while some workouts should be avoided as they can put your body under stress.

The best exercises to do when you have a cold:

Here are some good cold relief exercises that you can start doing immediately:

  • Walking

  • Running

  • Dance

  • Yoga

  • Qi Gong

Originated in Ancient China, Qi Gong is also one of the good exercises that you can consider for getting some relief from cold. It is a slow and mindful movement which is a cross between martial arts and meditation. This simple activity has a low intensity and has been in practice for thousands of years to reduce stress and anxiety, improve blood flow, and increase energy.

The worst exercises to do when you have a cold

If you are under weather, the first question that you would usually ask yourself is ‘can you lift weights with a cold?’ It is undoubtedly a good question and we are explaining just why you should not go for lifting weights and rather stick to doing simple exercises as mentioned above.

You should also stay away from the following exercises too:

1. Endurance running

Endurance running or long-form of running is a continuous form of running that spans a distance of at least 3 km. It is considered an aerobic exercise and is named as such because it increases stamina (or endurance). However, it can quickly worsen your state if you are feeling feverish due to cold.

2. Machine weight training

Machine weight training is a specialized form of exercise that uses gravity as the primary resource for increasing strength. It requires fitness-centric machines that deliver different levels of resistance to the person exercising on them through a variety of exercises. It should not be tried when feeling ill.

3. Swimming

Swimming is one of the easiest and simplest workouts because it requires a constant workup of your muscles against a constant (or increasing force of water). It boosts your heart rate, builds muscle strength, and increases endurance. Water would, however, cause more harm if you are feeling cold or fever.

4. Team Sports

Team sports are the ones that require at least five or more persons across two competing sides each who are working for an exclusive result. This may include football, basketball, or rugby, etc. These require a lot of energy and are thus not recommended during cold.

5. Weight lifting

It is usually safe to listen to your body symptoms while doing weight lifting exercises when not well because there might be some risky situations that need to be taken care of. The medicines for cold increase your heart rate and when you lift weights, it may result in making your heart pump very hard even when your immune system is using all the strength to fight infections.

Committing these aforementioned exercises can lead to severe health issues, especially when you are already down with common seasonal illnesses. Cold and fever might just be two of the most common ones out there but they also make the most people ill while they are working out unnecessarily.

Why lifting weights with cold is not recommended?

Aerobic or anaerobic exercises do take a lot of energy and heat from your body. The worse may happen if you keep on persisting with them by lifting weights with cold and cough- and here’s why.

When you are ill and you try to lift weights, you put more stress on your respiratory and cardiac system. This causes an increase in blood pressure and it can cause a lot of damage if you are not careful enough.

The same piece of advice would continue to be applicable in the case of working out with a cold for bodybuilding purposes too. We ask you to take your guard and be responsible in this case. Please note that the same principles shall continue to apply when you are working out for any professional bodybuilding competitions as well.

However, you can continue to work out if it is only a minor cold or just some nasal congestion. This would not have any serious consequences in most cases.

Special Case: Pilates and Lifting weights during cold and cough

We are investigating two special cases, one of doing Pilates and one of lifting weights when you have a cold that is in an extended state and the doctors have advised you to take some bed rest.

1. Doing Pilates with a cold

Pilates can quickly worsen up your medical condition, if not make you bed-ridden.

It is important to know that skipping a day or two of your exercises won’t cause you to shed a lot of weight. Pilates, being one of the toughest exercises when continued, can wreak havoc on our natural immunity and can catapult the illness to a higher stage.

If your cold is not too high and you are not experiencing any symptoms of fever or nausea, you may continue with your routine by reducing reps and intensity.

2. Lifting weights when suffering from cold

As mentioned above, mild congestion should not stop you from doing your best in the gym but you should assess the current state of your illness before that. Lifting weight does cause a lot of strain to your respiratory and cardiac system and if you are down with cold, your immune system would have to work harder to keep you working.

This would automatically drain your energy by a massive amount and you might soon start feeling giddiness, nausea, and even fever. It would be thus best to stay away for a day or two until the cold has subsided. You should be reasonably confident to build your way up after that, even if you were working out with a lot of progress to show.

Caution: Too much exercise may increase cold

The key to making the most of your workout session while suffering from cold is moderation. In case you are an exercise freak, make sure you take time for rest and recovery after periods of intense training. When workouts get too strenuous, the number of infection-fighting white blood cells in your body can actually go down.

At the same time, your stress hormone cortisol may go up, which may interfere with the ability of certain immune cells to work right. When you have a cold, it is important to give your immune system some rest as it can work best when it is not stressed!

Summing it up

The bottom line of the discussion is that working out in moderation when you are down with cold or flu can help in boosting up the recovery process. But you should be careful to keep yourself away from strenuous exercises in this case. It would never hurt you to listen to your body when you are ill or even when you are not feeling at your optimum best.

The most important thing is to consider that every form of exercising should only have one aim- to help you rise a better person from the mats than the one that had first sat on one. If you are not getting it right this time around, we bet that you have somehow missed out on a few basics of the same.

You would not lose your progress if you do not go to the gym to work out for a few days. The important thing is to remember is that you give your body the respect it deserves. Workout consistency and intensity can always come later. After all, we work out only to keep ourselves fitter and not to fall ill.