The leaves are changing color, there’s a nip in the air, and all the stores are stocked with holiday decorations. ‘Tis the season for colds and flu. Have you noticed more people sneezing, sniffling, and coughing lately?
I thought I was going to avoid the annual cold, but after a weekend visit with friends and their kids, I came down with the sniffles. I have a common cold, which means I have a stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, congestion, and mild fatigue. Luckily, I don’t have a fever, headache, or body aches (which are other possible symptoms).
Should I still work out, even though I have a cold and don’t feel 100% healthy?
The answer is yes … with a caveat. According to Dr. Edward R. Laskowski at the Mayo Clinic, “Mild to moderate physical activity is usually OK if you have a garden-variety cold and no fever. Exercise may even help you feel better by opening your nasal passages and temporarily relieving nasal congestion.” Dr. Laskowski goes on to recommend reduced intensity and duration of the workout, and more importantly, advises everyone to listen to their body.
Instead of jumping into your regular workout, think about modifying some reps and sets for less intensity than usual. Another option is to do an Active Recovery Workout, which is designed to allow your body to rest but not regress.
On the other hand, if you have “below the neck” symptoms such as chest congestion, hacking cough, or upset stomach, you should take some time to rest and stay out of the gym. A fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit also calls for some time out of the gym. Trying to push through a workout while battling bronchial tightness and a fever may not be the smartest solution to feeling healthy again!
While it’s tough for us fitness enthusiasts to scale back the intensity of our workouts or even to take some time out of the gym, sometimes it’s the best thing to do for our bodies. Learn your body’s limits and then listen to them. After all, you wouldn’t want your workout to actually be a contributing factor to an even worse illness!