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can you run with a cold

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Can You Work Out With A Cold? Here’s the REAL Answer…

November 5, 2015


Oh no, here it comes…

The season of sniffles, coughs and yucky sickies.

At the moment, I’m sniffling away as I write this post. I’ve been hit with an early case of a minor cold (complete with light head throbbing, coughing and my nose nose seemingly running ultra marathons). I’ve done a post on traveling with a cold but on my way to a spinning class yesterday I was wondering, is it really okay to work out with a cold?

There have actually been a bunch of studies done about this. There are a few things to definitely look out for and when it comes to being sick, not all workout were created equal; some should be avoided by all costs while some can actually help.

A quick Google search will swamp you with a host of criteria to figure out if you should be running/yoga-ing/lifting/etc when you’re sick. Here’s are a few ways to to see if you can run with a cold (or workout, etc):

+ Use the neck rule
If you have symptoms from the neck up, you’re probably okay (ie sniffles). If you have symptoms from the neck down, you might want to skip a few days (ie. chest pains, body aches).

+ Take three days off
Three is apparently the magic number. Three days shouldn’t ruin your workout schedule too much and gives your body time to rest. Even if you feel better on day one, it might be good to give your body the extra to really recover.

+ Fevers are bad.
Like do not workout if you have a fever. Same thing goes for bad headaches. Both of these can snowball into really serious conditions if you body is pushed too far.

+ Avoid outside if it’s cold out. 
While fresh air is good for you, putting your body (and lungs) through exercise in cold, dry air is no bueno. The dry air makes your lungs lose moisture which obviously won’t really help a cough.

+ Wait until you’re feeling 85-90%.
Just like the three day rule, you really shouldn’t workout if  you’re feeling extremely under the weather. Waiting until you feel around 90% well can be worth the wait to avoid prolonging your sickness.

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All these are suuuuper subjective and it can still be hard to really know if you’re truly too sick to workout. So if you’re no convinced that you should really skip a day, here are some good alternatives to a hard gruelling workout:
+ walking
+ relaxed yoga
+ jogging (no marathons or sprints though)

The workouts you should definitely avoid (for pretty obviously reasons) are:
+ hard running
+ gym machines (#germs)
+ lifting or anything with a lot of concentration and strength
+ anything outdoors in the cold

Alllllll this being said, sometimes you might feel better if you actually work out. I definitely know sometimes making myself go for a run can actually make me feel a lot healthier. Just keep in mind that working out produces adrenalin and epinephrine which make you feel good; so while you might better much better, keep in mind you might just be riding out the workout high and aren’t actually better.



That was a lot of information. Hopefully this post can/has helped you figure out if can you run with a cold (or lift/yoga/etc).

When do you take a day off? Do you always get sick in winter like I do?



Disclaimer: I’m by no means a certified doctor or trainer; I just learn things from the great world wide web. Listen to your doctor and don’t take this as a prescription or diagnosis.

* Image from here