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Should You Exercise if You Have a Cold?

kleenex anti-viral commuter freebiephoto © 2009 clive darr | more info (via: Wylio)It is the time of year when colds and stuff noses slow us down. But when is it ok to workout and when should you ease off of your fitness routine?

As we know, exercise in general is an excellent tool in the prevention of sicknesses as it boosts your immune system. Generally speaking, it is usually safe to exercise with a cold.

Still, if you exercise with a cold, it’s important to listen to your body. Sometimes cold medications such as decongestants can increase your heart rate. In addition, your heart rate is increased with exercise. The combination of exercise and decongestants can cause your heart to pump very hard. You may become short of breath and have difficulty breathing.

If you have asthma and a cold, make sure you talk with your doctor before you exercise. If your asthma symptoms are worse with a cold, you’ll need to use caution. Exercising with a cold and asthma may cause increased respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. These symptoms may require you to use more asthma medications to open your airways. Overuse of asthma drugs can also cause your heart rate to increase.

If you have a fever with a cold, exercise may stress your body even more. That’s why it’s important to wait a few days to get back to your regular exercise regimen. Working out too hard with a cold could stress your body, causing you to feel worse. This additional stress may hinder your recovery.

As a rule of thumb for exercise and illness:

  • Proceed with your workout if your signs and symptoms are “above the neck” — such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or sore throat. Be prepared to reduce the intensity of your workout if needed, however.
  • Postpone your workout if your signs and symptoms are “below the neck” — such as chest congestion, hacking cough or upset stomach. Likewise, don’t exercise if you have a fever, fatigue or widespread muscle aches.

If you exercise with a cold and have any of the following symptoms, it’s important to stop and call your doctor:

  • Increased chest congestion
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Coughing and/or wheezing
  • Chest tightness or pressure
  • Trouble breathing or excessive shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Difficulty with balance

In general, while exercising with a cold is considered ok; remember to listen to your body and ease off of high intensity exercise until you recover.

sources: http://www.mayoclinic.com

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