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Should You Keep Exercising When You Have A Cold?

Sticking to a routine of exercise is good for your health. However, should you keep exercising when you have a cold? Does it help the recovery or aggravate the symptoms? If it does help, what exercises should you do? These questions may be quite unexpected since we have always been suggested to get enough rest and stay hydrated for faster recovery from cold, and exercising is exactly the opposite which consumes much energy. Besides, exercising when you have a cold can be challenging, as the symptoms of a cold can make it difficult to breathe and can cause fatigue and muscle aches. 

The answer to these questions may be to your surprise. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the exercise you do, exercising can help the recover from the cold. To be more specific, exercises of lower intensity can let you recover faster from mild symptoms.

Exercises that can help

Low-impact exercises are often recommended as they can help you to stay active without putting too much strain on your body. These exercises can include:

● Walking: A gentle walk around the neighborhood can help to get your blood flowing and improve your mood.

● Yoga: Gentle yoga poses can help to improve breathing and reduce stress, which can help to boost your immunity.

● Stretching: Stretching can help to relieve muscle aches and improve flexibility, which can help to reduce stress on your body.

● Cycling: A light bike ride can help to improve circulation and boost your energy levels.

● Swimming: Swimming is a low-impact exercise that can help to improve breathing and reduce stress on your joints.


If you have been doing these exercises regularly, you should reduce the intensity and length when you have a cold. It's important to consider your body condition and not push yourself too hard. Ensuring enough rest is always the priority during the recovery from a cold. Mild symptoms like a runny nose or sore throat are no big deal for exercise. But if you're feeling really unwell, for example, already suffering from fever, chest congestion, or a severe sore throat, it's best to avoid exercise and take enough rest to let your body recover. Otherwise, the exercise can cause the symptoms to worsen and it can also increase the risk of complications. In addition, if you have any underlying health problems like COPD, asthma, or other respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, it is a must to confirm with your doctor whether you are allowed to do any exercises.


Additionally, if you have a cold, it's important to stay hydrated, as fluids can help to thin out mucus and make it easier to breathe. Exercise usually leads to more water loss through sweat. So it is important to replenish in time. 

Other things to notice

Since you are more likely to catch a cold in winter, there are more things to pay attention to if you are going to exercise in winter. 

Cold and dry air

Cold and dry air can irritate your respiratory system. On cold days, the air you breathe in will dry out the mucus layers of the lungs and stops the cilia from keeping out the hazardous particles and microorganisms. Without this protection for your lungs and airway, the existing symptoms may aggravate. 


Winter is commonly a season of severe air pollution as a result of more use of vehicles and wood-burning heaters. Polluted air can do no less harmful than smoking.


Flu season always takes place in winter as a result of cold weather. On the one hand, viruses have much stronger abilities to proliferate and survive in colder weather. On the other hand, our immune system becomes weaker as a result of slower metabolism in cold weather. As your immune system is already weakened by the cold, the attack of the virus is very likely to make it worse.


Therefore, to make exercising in the winter more enjoyable and safe, try finding indoor activities such as swimming, gym workout, or group fitness classes. If you prefer to exercise outdoors, wear a mask to keep out all the hazardous substances that may aggravate your cold symptoms. It’s also worth mentioning to dress in layers and make sure to protect your extremities with gloves, a hat, and warm socks.


Overall, if you have a cold, it's best to take it easy and avoid strenuous exercise until you feel better. But light exercise can help you feel better and shorten the duration of your cold. Decide what you will do according to your symptoms. If your symptoms are irrelevant to your lungs, like sniffles or congestion, the chance is high it is just a cold, and light exercise can be beneficial. If not, such as a hacking cough, chest congestion, or problems with other organs, that could be a sign of more serious infections, and you should have some rest without any exercise. "

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