At this time of year so many good intentions go by the wayside as we are struck down with a cold.
So if you get a cold should you still exercise?
The general advice seems to be (in the absence of any other medical reasons) that you can still exercise provided your symptoms are above the neck. You should avoid exercise however if cold symptoms are below the neck or you are running a temperature.
The golden rule is that you should always listen carefully to your body. If you really feel too fatigued to exercise then it is likely that rest is just what you need. But don’t simply stop exercise just because you feel you shouldn’t do it with a cold. While it is certainly not the time to push yourself with an intense workout, gentle exercise, a brisk walk for example, has been shown to boost the immune system and help aid recovery. Take it too far however and you will stress that immune system which will have the opposite effect and prolong your illness.
The good news going forward is that regular exercise can go a long way towards helping to prevent colds in the first place. A 2002 American study found that those who exercised regularly suffered 20-30% fewer colds. Another 2006 study suggested that moderate exercise reduced the risk of colds in post menopausal women by half.
But be aware of the fact that the studies tend to show that the ability of moderate exercise to ward off colds seems to be cumulative. It is important to stick with regular exercise long term to get the full effects. You can’t bank exercise either. If you stop exercise for 2 weeks you will start to experience some deconditioning And it could take longer than 2 weeks to get back to your previous form.
Above all try to view exercise as every bit as important a part of your day as eating and sleeping in terms of your overall health and well-being. Then next year you could be cold free!!!