Do’s and Don'ts of Exercising with a Cold
Michael Jordan could score 38 points, including a buzzer-beater three-point shot during game 5 of the 1997 NBA finals’ memorable ‘Flu Game’, but we’re all not His Airness, now are we? However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t exercise in the midst of a cold. It all depends on what we do and where we do it, among other factors. For example, if the symptoms you’re experiencing are mainly sneezing, sinus pressure, or a stuffy nose (the kind that take place above the neck), then you’re good to go.
Walking. Even if you’re not ready for your usual work-out, a 20 minute walk will do just fine. It will keep you active in general, and may help you get rid of some of those symptoms in particular. Remember that the goal is to feel better, so if you actually feel worse, then it’s best to hit the sack back.
Jogging. If you felt good after a nice walk, but don’t feel like you can run the distance and at the speed you’re used to, you could settle for a mild jog. Jogging is a natural decongestant, but if the symptoms are below the neck (e.g. nausea and vomiting), you’ll be better off maintaining a vertical position.
Dancing, Qi gong and Yoga. These low impact activities may seem like they accomplish nothing when you’re healthy, but they are actually perfect to relieve stress, improve circulation, reduce anxiety and give you an energy boost, all of which are very welcome when you’re dealing with a cold.
The gym. This is not so much about how bad working out at your gym during a cold could be for you, as it is about how bad it could be for the gym’s other patrons. In this case, the golden rule applies. The same goes for team sports, especially full contact ones, where blood, sweat, tears, and saliva enable viruses to spread around easily.
Weight lifting. Your body will be focused on fighting the cold, so you won’t be able to lift as much weight as you’re accustomed to. Even if you tried, all you’d get for your pains is your sinus pressure and headaches to worsen. You can still do more repetitions with lighter dumbbells, though.
Outdoors activities. Cold weather doesn’t make you sick nor impairs your immune system. But cold and dry air can make your symptoms even worse, and give you a few new ones as well.