My Wellbeing Wednesday post is a day late because I’ve been sick with a cold (I’d forgotten how much it sucks to be sick, so I must admit my empathy for anyone with a cold has been boosted). Since returning from holidays I’d had a good run of going to the gym and eating well, so I was really frustrated about not feeling like exercising. So then (feelings aside) the question became, should you exercise when you have a cold? What do the experts say? Is it just our mothers who are adverse to us overexerting ourselves or is there real scientific evidence behind resting whilst you have a cold?
An Exercise Scientist’s opinion on exercising when you have a cold
My first point of call was a friend of mine, Ben Fox (PhD Candidate, Exercise Scientist (BExSS Hons)). His opinion was “that sometimes it’s better just to roll back up under the covers, and let your body get the rest it needs. While exercise is good for your immune system, your body needs energy to fight off infection; so you could be using ‘precious resources’. While light to moderate exercise is okay when you have a head cold, sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to rest. Exercise and physical activity should be for life. It is okay to miss a session or two, as long as we get back to it once symptoms have cleared up”. Let me tell you, that was not the answer I was hoping for. What I wanted to hear was “yeah get into it, don’t listen to your body – science says it’s just a cold, you’ll be right!’. Why does common sense always have to prevail?!
The American College of Sports Medicine’s opinion on exercising when you have a cold
The American College of Sports Medicine states its position here which also supports Mr Fox’s advice. Wait until the symptoms of the cold have resolved themselves (usually a few days) before resuming an intense training regime. They have said research shows that no negative effects came from mild to moderate exercise (eg. walking) whilst a person has a cold.
My experience exercising with a cold
So research complete, I opted for moderate exercise and with my box of tissues of I went to a body balance class. Note to future self: blowing of nose during the meditation track really kills the mood. That afternoon I was really unwell, so I am not sure if it was proof of the class using my ‘precious resources’ or the cold hitting its peak of symptoms. Either way, it was my usual lesson learnt – REST is required sometimes.
What’s your opinion? Do you exercise when you get a cold?