It’s 6am. You just woke up with a headache, runny nose and sore throat. Oh, no…you think. But, are your symptoms a cold…or the flu? If you don’t have a fever, it’s probably just a cold.
With the flu your symptoms are more severe – like a raging headache, rather than a mild one. But, here’s the problem. You have a run planned for the morning. Should you just suck it up and go? If you have a fever or flu symptoms, lay low and skip your workout.
But, you might wonder: is exercising safe with a cold?
A Natural Cold Killer…
Regular exercise is a natural cold killer. It jump starts your immune system, the body’s defense against cold and flu. Plus, think about this. During exercise, your immune defenses increase by as much as 300 percent! And if you exercise regularly, you can destroy the invaders that cause illness.
But, how much should you exercise during a cold?
About 20 to 30 minutes daily. If 30 minutes seems like too much, opt for a 15 minute session instead.
Listen to your Body
Can you exercise with a cold? Most of the time, yes. But, here’s the catch. Listen to your body. If respiratory symptoms get worse with exercise, like coughing or shortness of breath…stop. Also, if you have asthma, skip the exercise altogether; unless your doctor says it’s alright.
And, if you’re taking a decongestion – pay attention to your heart rate. Your heart rate increases with exercise. Plus, a decongestant makes your heart rate increase. The result? You might end up with shortness of breath. If this happens, stop activity.
Too Much Exercise….
Here’s another catch. You can workout during a cold, but too much isn’t good. So, select moderate activities. Take a walk or jog. Remember, exercise increases your immune system. But skip intense training during a cold. Here’s why. Intense workouts decrease the amount of white blood cells in your body. These blood cells fight your cold. Plus, during intense workouts, your body increases the stress hormone…called cortisol. Too much cortisol interferes with your body’s ability to fight illness.
So, the next time you get a cold…go ahead and exercise. But remember to watch for signals your body needs a break. Plus, use a couple tricks to boost your immune system. Get enough rest. Eat a healthy diet. And take tiny steps to staying healthy.