Can I Exercise When I Have a Cold?

I just came down with a sore throat and a big headache, so should I go ahead and teach my fitness classes? According to Jillian Michaels, as long as the sickness is above the neck (think stuffy nose and sore throat), then moderate exercise is okay. High-intensity exercise will only exacerbate your symptoms and shut down your immune system. On a scale of 1-10 of physical exertion, exercise anywhere from a 3-6 when you have a cold. I did end up teaching a Total Body Conditioning Class and took it easy for the most part, and it actually took my mind off of my relentless sore throat and headache for an hour, which was a nice perk!

Can Exercise Make Me Sick?

Regular exercise is great for your immune system. In fact, people who just walk at a brisk pace for 40 minutes per day report half as many sick days than those who don’t get in regular exercise. However, you can definitely over-do it and make yourself sick by exercising too much. The Get-Fit Guy also says that even as few as 90 minutes of intense exercise (think marathons, triathlons, or even back-to-back group fitness classes) can weaken your immune system up to 3 days after you exercise! I feel like this is an easy one for me to do. I might not do 90 minutes of intense exercise every day, but I will teach two 60 minute classes in one day, and be sore for days on end. If you think you are in danger of over-exercising, Kristen from Be Fit With Kristen has a great post on the symptoms and treatments of over-training.

Just Don’t Say It Out Loud

The funny part about me getting sick is that I literally told a lady at Fred Myer yesterday that I haven’t been sick all year since I have been in Seattle! She had this terrified look on her face and said, “Oh no, don’t say that out loud!” Now I definitely am not a superstitious, knock-on-wood type of gal, but I thought that was pretty funny, considering the fact that I did get sick. I used to get sick in GA all the time, mostly because I would run myself into the ground and it was kind of God’s way of saying, “You need to rest. Let me have control for a while.” I talk a little more about this in my “Everybody Needs A Sabbath” post.

My Cold Remedies

If you think you might have something more than the common cold like the flu, please consult this CDC page on how to take care of yourself. Personally, if I feel like I am coming down with something, I will try and sleep as much as possible, wash my hands (because I live in the state of WashYourHandsingTon), drink a ton of water, and make sure I’m getting all my proper nutrients. Right now, I am really enjoying the hot and cold liquids. I have already had coffee, so I heated up a mug of vanilla almond milk for 1 minute, 10 seconds (who knew I would be in to the glass of warm milk?!), have downed 4 huge glasses of water, and am sucking on cough drops and butterscotch discs. A few other snacks I enjoy to soothe my throat are green tea with a splash of milk and honey, frozen orange juice diluted with water, fruit popsicles, plain ole reduced-sodium chicken broth, Frozen Yogurt Bites, and green smoothies for special treats.

I am also running out of cough syrup for when I go to bed, but Everyday Health says that 2 spoonfuls of honey is just as effective (and tastes WAY better!) Another helpful thing to remember is not to touch my eyeballs, since I have this bad habit of fiddling with my eyelashes :/ The studies are not clear on whether you can reinfect yourself, but I’m going to try not to touch my ears, nose, and eyes for the time being. Oh, and I won’t reach for a pack of Emergen-C. That’s a waste of money, people. It hasn’t been proven that mega doses of Vitamin C can help prevent or treat colds. I will, however, go get myself a bowl of chicken soup right about now!

Have you exercised while being sick? What are your favorite cold remedies?