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Sniff and snuffle! Should I exercise with a cold?

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

According to NHS advice, there’s no need to stop exercising if you’re feeling under the weather this winter. However, if you’ve got a fever (a temperature over 38oC) and feel rotten, exercise could make you feel worse and cause more problems. Take the ‘Neck Check’! If you’re feeling poorly above the neck (a head cold), it’s generally OK to exercise but if your symptoms are below the neck (chest or stomach for instance) give the exercise a miss. Some research shows that doing regular exercise could actually reduce your risk of getting colds as it strengthens your immune system. So don’t be tempted to hang up your trainers and hibernate as the nights draw in - being active makes you feel more energised and improves your mental wellbeing too. So here are my top tips for staying healthy while you exercise:

  • Make sure you warm up your cold muscles on chilly days, especially if you’re exercising outside. Wear extra layers to and from your class and if you’re in the great outdoors, wear a hat to keep your body heat in!

  • If you’ve got a cold, tone down the intensity of your exercise. Aerobic exercise can help to open up your airways and help you feel better as your body releases endorphins but don’t put too much pressure on your immune system, it will take longer to recover.

  • Prevention is better than cure. Really fit people rarely get colds due to their well-conditioned immune system and they recover more quickly from illnesses too. So the fitter you are, the healthier you’ll stay!

  • Be considerate to your fellow workout buddies and don’t spread your germs! Maybe switch to a home workout for a few days or at least make sure you wash your hands regularly and don’t share equipment.

If you’re doing something you love, it is easier to shake off the winter blues and ignore those nagging excuses. Getting out in the evening or on a chilly morning to meet friends and boost your mood with a fun workout has got to be at the top of the list of autumn feel-good activities!

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