Autumn is coming. Exercising while being sick?


Autumn is coming and with it the common cold. While in 2020 we should always be on the lookout for COVID19-symptoms, we also should not forget about the common cold and its influence on our performance and health. At times it can be difficult to fully understand when it is safe to continue with our training. Checking our heart rate can help us to determine if we have gotten over a common cold or if our immune system is still fighting with an infection.

The fitness trackers that many of us use nowadays make it quite easy to check our resting heart rate and notice any changes. However, even without a fitness tracker or smart watch you can check your resting heart rate. Take your resting heart rate every morning lying in bed when you wake up. Keep a record. After a week or two you’ll see a clear pattern of what is ‘normal’ for you. Now, if you get a cold or get run down, you’ll find the resting rate is 5 – 10 beats per minute higher than normal. Interestingly, this rise shows up before symptoms of a cold virus appear so you know in advance that you’re sickening for something.

Can I exercise while being sick? Is it really ok, to continue and train if I have a cold?

The Mayo-Clinic recommends the following:

We would say – it depends- : mild to moderate physical activity is ok, if you have a general cold and no fever. Exercise may even help you feel better by opening your nasal passages and temporarily relieving nasal congestion.

As a very simple general guide for exercise and illness, consider this:

  • Training is usually good if your symptoms are all “above the neck.” These signs and symptoms include those you may have with a common cold, such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or minor sore throat. Consider reducing the intensity and length of your workout. Instead of going for a run, take a walk, for example.
  • Don’t exercise if your signs and symptoms are “below the neck,” such as chest congestion, a hacking cough or upset stomach. Than you might want to stay at home
  • Fever? Don’t exercise if you have a fever, fatigue or widespread muscle aches. These symtomes are a no go.
  • Anyway: if your cold will not dissapear after a few days, please consult a specialist. Don’t overdo it.
  • Be careful with medicine: Consult a doctor before taking pills or tablets.

Take a look into yourself. Let your body be your guide. Feeling miserable, take a break. A few days off from exercise when you’re sick shouldn’t affect your performance. Resume your normal workout routine gradually as you begin to feel better. Check with your doctor if you aren’t sure if it’s OK to exercise.

If you do choose to exercise when you’re sick, reduce the intensity and length of your workout. If you attempt to exercise at your normal intensity when you have more than a simple cold, you could risk more-serious injury or illness.

This autumn and winter we should also always be on the lookout for COVID19-symptoms. And if you experience symptoms of coronavirus you should follow your countries specific guidelines for seeking medical care.

Stay safe and healthy!


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