Tags: Cold/Flu | workout | advice | cold | flu | sick | fever

Should You Work Out With a Cold?

Monday, 11 Feb 2013 07:29 AM


  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink
Sniffles, runny noses, and flu-like symptoms can deter, delay, and even derail many exercisers just when enthusiasm for that New Year's resolution is beginning to flag.
Health and fitness experts advise to starve a fever of exercise. But feeding a cold moderately, with a brisk walk, may not be a bad idea.
"The classic line from every sports medicine doctor is, ‘If you can do it, do it. If you can't, don't,'" said Dr. Lewis G. Maharam, author of "Running Doc's Guide to Healthy Running."
Usually if symptoms are confined to above the neck, exercising is OK, he explained. But if you're running a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius) or higher, skip it.
Body heat rises during exercise due to increased metabolism, explained Maharam, who practices medicine in New York City. If you start high, your body's way of cooling you down is out of balance.
"If fever gets too high, you break down proteins, maybe in the kidneys or liver," he said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 425 million case of colds and flu occur annually in the United States. The average person has about three respiratory infections per year.
Dr. David C. Nieman, a professor of health sciences at Appalachian State University, North Carolina Research Campus, said research shows that regular, moderate, aerobic exercise strengthens the immune system, and that people who exercise report fewer colds than their inactive peers.
Nieman said five days or more of aerobic activity per week was found to be a powerful factor in lowering the number of sick days.
"Even three to four days was effective. To be avoided was being sedentary," he explained.
But when animals infected with a systemic virus are forced to exercise in fever and pain, studies show that their symptoms are exacerbated, prolonged, and sometimes life-threatening.
'Bed Rest'
"It's very dangerous." said Nieman, who has written about the impact of exercise on the common cold. "If you have flu or virus with fever and pain, the best remedy is bed rest. The worst thing is to sweat it out with exercise."
He said common cold and flu viruses can stay on objects, such as door handles, treadmills, and computer keyboards, for hours. The main route to infection is through touching one's mouth or nose with unwashed hands.
Patrick Strait, of Snap Fitness, a franchiser of gyms with locations worldwide, said this time of year fitness centers step up cleaning efforts because they see a lot more traffic and so many people catch colds and the flu.
"It's a public place where a lot of people are sweating," said Strait. "We tell manager/owners to clean once an hour, wash down the equipment with bleach, etc."
He urged clients to wipe down equipment and wash hands often.
"And if you're sick, don't come to the gym," he said.
Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise, said some days symptoms dictate scaling back your workout or, if you're contagious, skipping the gym entirely.
"Always listen to your body," she said. "It might be a good idea to exercise at home or privately."
Nieman said that while moderate exercise strengthens the immune system, elite athletes will experience a rise in stress hormones and a dip in immunity after about 90 minutes of high-intensity activity.
Maharam said the immunity of marathoners is decreased for up to 72 hours after a race. During that time, the athletes are more susceptible to colds, flu, and, most commonly, the so-called "marathon sniffles."
He said symptoms usually subside within 48 hours.
"At the end of a race, when you're all sweaty and they're all sweaty, you don't need to be hugging and kissing people," Maharam said. "Your immune system isn't as strong as it was."

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Retype Email:
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Ebola Survivor Praises Experimental Drug

Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 11:28 AM

A Liberian Ebola survivor who received an experimental drug urged the manufacturer to speed up its production and send i . . .

Experimental Heart Failure Drug Shows Promise

Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 11:17 AM

An experimental drug has been shown to be more effective than standard treatment at preventing deaths and hospitalizatio . . .

With Prostate Cancer, It Helps to Know the Enemy

Friday, 29 Aug 2014 16:47 PM

Prostate cancer patients lacking knowledge about the disease have difficulty making good treatment decisions. This can l . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved