Should You Exercise When You Have a Cold?

If you are currently exercising regularly to achieve your fitness goals, any instance that knocks you off of your stride can be extremely bothersome. A cold or flu may be such an instance as symptoms can include fatigue and muscle weakness, impairing your capability to exert physical energy. It may also be the case that you are only experiencing mild symptoms and still feel capable of exercising. So you may wonder if you should take a rest or keep doing exercise. Continue reading to ascertain the answer.

Should You Exercise When You Have a Cold?

The severity and symptoms of your cold decide whether you should be exercising or not. If the symptoms are all above the neck, such as a stuffy or runny nose, a sore throat of minor severity or sneezing, exercising will usually be fine. You just need to reduce the intensity of your work-out regime.

If the symptoms are below the neck, such as shortness of breath, congestion of the chest, a severe cough or troubles stomach, it would be wise to avoid exercising until the symptoms clear. You should also avoid exercise if you have a fever, fatigue or achy muscles.

Listening to your body is usually the correct answer to "should you exercise when you have a cold". If you generally feel down and lethargic due to a cold or flu, exercising may not be a great idea. Resting for a few days will not have much influence on the progress you have made. As you begin to feel better, you can gradually restart your fitness program.

How Long Will Recovery Take?

Recovery time depends on the severity of your cold. Generally, you need to wait around three days before exercising once again for a minor cold; one week for a severe cold; two weeks for a flu.

Best Exercises When You Have a Cold

Since you already know the answer to "should you exercise when you have a cold", you may wonder what exercise you can do when you have a minor cold. You can try the following five exercises to relieve symptoms and speed up recovery.

1. Walking

Walking may be the best choice as it is low-intensity and is suitable for those who may be feeling slightly hindered. Whilst walking, one would general take long deep breaths which can help to clear sinus and provide relief from nasal congestion.

2. Jogging

As long as you only have a mild cold with no symptoms experienced below the neck, there is no reason as to avoid jogging. Some even believe that running helps them to feel better when they are unwell. Whilst you have a cold, it may be wise to reduce the intensity of your jog so as not to over-exert your body whilst it is fighting an infection. 

3. Qi Gong

Qi gong is an ancient Chinese method of healing that involves many different physical movements, breathing exercises and meditation. Qi Gong has been practiced for thousands of years to treat anxiety, increase one’s blood flow, improve one’s energy levels, as well as help with overall health of the body and mind.

4. Yoga

Yoga can help to relieve stress, as well as pain pertaining to a cold or flu. As yoga is highly flexible, you can choose some low-intensity yoga poses to ease your tension and provide relief. Watch the following video to learn some simple yoga moves to remedy common cold: 

5. Dance

Whether you are taking part in a cardio dance session like Zumba fitness, or simply dancing at home to your favorite song, these movements offer you energy as well as stress relief. Some dancing may be physically demanding, so choose the low-impact ones when you're having a cold.


By now you should have the answer to "should you exercise when you have a cold" and "what exercise can you do when having a cold". If you decide to go ahead with your exercise regime, you may need to consider the spread of your cold or flu. It may be wise to exercise at home or in an open space so as to avoid spreading germs and infect others.

You should also practice good cold-management techniques, such as washing your hands thoroughly and covering your mouth with a tissue when you sneeze and cough. If you don't have a tissue, sneeze into your shoulder/elbow joint and avoid doing it on your hands. Dispose any tissue that you have used in a bin. You may wish to carry anti-bacterial hand sanitizer with you to kill the germs on your hands to reduce the likelihood of spreading the bacteria.  

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