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When can you exercise when you’re getting over a cold?

by Ben Hickey on Tuesday 7 August 2018


Regular exercise does some awesome things for your body, including boosting your immune system, which can reduce the number of colds you get. But if the sniffles have already hit, then pushing yourself when your body needs rest could do more harm than good.

So, when can you get back into your fitness regime?  

Check the neck

A good rule of thumb to find out whether it’s safe to get back into things is to check where your symptoms are. Some doctors say there’s a big difference between signs of sickness that are above and below the neck. 

Above-the-neck symptoms include:
•      a sore throat
•      mild headaches
•      a sniffly nose

If you’ve only got these sorts of symptoms and they’re fairly mild, you’re probably okay to get moving – though remember to be gentler than normal. 

Below-the-neck symptoms include:
•      chesty or rattling coughs
•      heavy congestion
•      a temperature
•      feeling weak or exhausted

These signs mean you’re best off resting a little while longer. 

If your illness includes muscle pain, it’s a good idea to hold off on those squats. Aches could be a sign that you have a flu rather than a cold, and going hard when you need rest could risk making you sicker.

Follow your heart

Another great way to test if your germ-battling body is workout-ready is to monitor your heart rate. If your stationary heart rate is higher than normal, it means your system is already working overtime to make you well again.

You don’t want to add extra exhaustion to the mix, so you’re better off focusing on other aspects of wellness, like getting good nutrition and proper sleep. 

Ease back in

It’s never a good idea to leap out of your sick bed and start doing crunches. If you’re getting over a cold, don’t expect to get back into your regular routine straight away.

You’re better off starting with some light exercise then slowly ramping up the length and intensity. It can also be a good idea to focus on low-impact activities like walking and swimming.  

The important thing is to listen to your body. If you’re feeling wrecked or coughing your lungs up, it’s probably a sign to take it a little slower.

It’s important to get your exercise schedule back on track: when you’ve been thrown out of the swing of things by a cold, it’s easy to let weeks pass before you get back into the healthy habits you built up. While you don’t want to let that happen, remember that there’s no shame in getting the rest your body needs. 

*It’s important to note that this information is not intended to replace the services of a trained health care professional or to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We always recommend consulting a licensed GP or physician in all matters relating to your health. 

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