Can You Exercise Even When You Have a Cold?

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Do you engage in exercise (almost) every day? Even when you’re feeling tired or chilly? Finding a balance between staying active and allowing your body the rest it requires for recovery is crucial,” advises Chloe Whylie, an elite athlete and trainer, as quoted in the British edition of Marie Claire.

Whylie goes on to suggest, “Before heading to the gym or embarking on any workout routine, it’s wise to conduct a simple self-assessment to gauge how you’re feeling.”

The athlete emphasizes certain factors to consider: “If your symptoms are confined to the upper part of your body, like a mild headache, a scratchy throat, or a minor cold,” or “if your symptoms are below the neck, such as overall body aches or fever.” If you fall into the first category, it’s generally safe to continue exercising, but in a moderate manner.

However, when experiencing pain or fever, the advice shifts. Personal trainer Palomie Patel concurs, adding, “Symptoms like muscle soreness and an elevated body temperature are indicators that it might be best to postpone exercise for another day.”

Subjecting the body to additional stress through physical exertion can lead to detrimental outcomes, putting us at a higher risk of hindering our ability to engage in activities we cherish for an extended period, due to potential overexertion and strain on the nervous system.

Exercising when you have a cold can be safe in certain situations, but it’s important to listen to your body and take appropriate precautions. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  1. Mild Symptoms: If your cold symptoms are mild and primarily located above the neck (such as a runny nose, sore throat, or congestion), it’s generally considered safe to engage in light to moderate exercise. Activities like walking, gentle yoga, or light stretching can help improve blood flow and may even provide some relief from congestion.
  2. Avoid Intense Workouts: It’s best to avoid high-intensity workouts or activities that put a significant strain on your body when you’re feeling unwell. Pushing too hard can potentially weaken your immune system and prolong your recovery.
  3. Listen to Your Body: Pay close attention to how you feel during exercise. If you experience an increase in symptoms, fatigue, or feel worse, it’s a sign that your body may need more rest.
  4. Stay Hydrated: Make sure to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, especially if you have a fever or are experiencing increased sweating due to exercise.
  5. Rest if Needed: If you have more severe symptoms (such as chest congestion, fever, body aches, or fatigue), it’s generally recommended to prioritize rest and recovery over exercise. Pushing through intense workouts in these circumstances can potentially prolong your illness and may not be beneficial.


Remember, everyone’s body reacts differently to illness, so it’s important to use your own judgment and prioritize your well-being. If you’re in doubt, it’s generally best to err on the side of caution and allow yourself the rest you need to recover.


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