Can a Workout Help a Cold?

Can a workout help a cold? It’s a common question, and the answer may surprise you.


When you have a cold, it can feel like getting out of bed and exercising are the last things you want to do. But believe it or not, some studies suggest that physical activity may actually help to reduce symptoms in the early stages of a cold.

It’s true that excessive exercise or pushing yourself too hard when you’re sick can cause more damage than good. However, moderate exercise at the right intensity for your current level of health can potentially reduce both the length and severity of your cold symptoms. This is because physical activity increases circulation and stimulates your body’s natural healing mechanisms which may help with cold relief.

Though there’s not enough medical evidence to definitively prove that exercising can prevent or treat a cold, some people find relief from their symptoms while they work out — which is reason enough to give it a try! In addition, regular physical activity also helps boost your immune system and strengthen your body’s defense against illnesses in general, so it always pays to be active even when you’re feeling under the weather.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise can provide a range of benefits to your physical and mental health. Working out can help to reduce stress, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Studies have also suggested that regular physical activity can help to reduce the severity and duration of a cold. Let’s look into what other advantages exercise can have on your health.

Improved Immunity

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which boost your mood and can reduce stress. Stress hormones such as cortisol can suppress the immune system, so regular exercise helps to counteract this effect by reinforcing the activity of immune cells. Regular exercise is also believed to help improve circulation and more efficiently distribute immune cells throughout the body. As such, regular exercise has been found to reduce the severity and duration of colds and other illnesses by improving the function of white blood cells that fight infection.

Increased Blood Flow

Exercise leads to increased blood flow throughout the body, allowing oxygen and essential vitamins and minerals to travel to any part of the body. This can help boost the immune system, allowing for a swift and powerful fight against illness. Increased blood flow has also been connected to a decrease in inflammation, which may help lessen cold symptoms—such as sore throat, congestion, sinus-related headaches, and coughs. Exercise may also lower stress levels and increase energy. Low stress can lead to more restful sleep, which is essential for fighting cold-causing viruses. Lastly, exercise helps keep your weight under control—obesity has been linked to overall health decline.

Stress Relief

One of the primary benefits of regular physical exercise is stress reduction. Exercise can help you manage stress more effectively by releasing endorphins, which are hormones that act as natural painkillers and make a person feel good while exercising. Regular physical activity also helps reduce tension, increase energy levels and improve sleep patterns, all of which could boost your body’s ability to fight off colds and flu viruses. In fact, some studies have even shown that regular moderate activity can reduce the incidence of common illnesses like colds or the flu by up to 50%. So not only can exercise help you stay in shape physically, it may also be beneficial in helping your body remain thicker skinned against seasonal illnesses.

Exercise Precautions

Many people believe that exercise can help with a cold, but there are precautions to consider. Firstly, it is important to be aware that pushing yourself too hard can make your cold worse. The intensity of exercise should be tailored to the severity of your cold, as well as your normal workout routine. This paragraph will discuss the different ways exercise can help or hinder a cold.

Listen to Your Body

When trying to decide whether it is safe for you to work out when you have a cold, it is important to listen to your body. If symptoms such as fever, body aches, chest congestion or fatigue are present, it may be best to skip the workout and rest until feeling back to normal. Additionally, if chest congestion or sinus pressure makes respiratory breathing difficult, a workout should be avoided. While working out when mildly ill can boost immune function and help fight infection while recovering faster due to increased circulation of oxygen-rich blood through the body, extreme or intense exertion can actually hinder recovery; if any symptoms worsen during exercise then it will no longer be beneficial.

No matter what activity you are doing while ill, take regular breaks and allow your body time to adjust and adapt. Do not ignore signs of exhaustion such as a rapid heart rate or difficulty breathing; decrease intensity level or stop altogether until symptoms subside. It is also advisable to only exercise for short periods of time when sick.

Avoid High Intensity Workouts

When suffering from a cold, it is important to use caution when considering taking part in a workout. While moderate exercise may be beneficial in helping to run a fever or loosen up congestion, there is no reason to subject the body to anything more than light exercise while unwell. High intensity activities should be avoided as they can cause undue stress and overexertion on the immune system.

If symptoms are not too severe, such as congestion and low-grade fever, then low impact activities such as walking may help clear sinuses, aid in focus and reduce fatigue. Examples of low impact activities include light jogging or walking on a treadmill, jump roping, water aerobics and stationary cycling. All of these exercises are beneficial for helping to rid the body of toxins that may have accumulated during illness while also providing stress relief that can help improve immunity.

It is important however to monitor your physical symptoms during exercise and stop if feeling overly exhausted or any new pain appears; overdosing on exercise will only weaken your recovery abilities instead of helping them improve. If any high intensity activities were part of your usual routine before becoming ill such as weight lifting or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), it is best advised to wait until symptoms have subsided before reintroducing them back into your routine. Overall, it is important to maintain balance between rest and activity when fighting a cold without overstraining yourself in more strenuous activities.

Warm Up and Cool Down

It’s important to take the time to warm up the muscles before any exercise. A warm-up can last five minutes, during which time you gradually increase your activity level. This will help to gradually build up muscle temperature and loosen the joints, preparing your body for more intense exercise. When you’re finished, make sure to cool down your body by stretching and doing other activities of a gentler nature — this helps bring down heart rate, respiration and temperature gradually. This will also help reduce muscle soreness and injury if done properly. It is recommended that static stretching should be performed after each workout, even if only for a few minutes — this will help ensure proper muscles relaxation and improved circulation in the joints.

Types of Exercise

Exercise can be a great way to help your body fight off a cold. While rest is important, there are certain types of exercise that may be more beneficial than others when you’re feeling under the weather. Depending on your current health and the severity of your cold, certain types of workouts may be more suitable than others. Let’s take a look at the different types of exercise that may help you recover from a cold.


Cardio, or cardiovascular, exercise gets your heart rate up and can help flush bacteria from your lungs and improve the circulation of white blood cells throughout your body. It is also known to enhance immune function and reduce stress levels, both of which may improve the body’s ability to fight off viruses. Types of cardio exercise include walking, jogging, swimming, biking and dancing. Most importantly, choose an activity that you enjoy! Moderate to intense cardio workouts should last at least 30 minutes and be done at least 3–5 times a week for maximum benefit.

Strength Training

Strength training is a form of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction. It helps to build endurance, toning, shape, strength and improve coordination and balance. Resistance can come from weights, elastic bands, bodyweight exercise or cables among other sources. This type of exercise is designed to target specific muscle groups and are normally completed in a series of repetitions or sets with rest periods. Examples of strength training exercises include push-ups, squats, deadlifts and lunges. The American College of Sports Medicine recommend a minimum of two days per week for routine weight Training without supplementation prescribed otherwise by healthcare professionals.


Yoga is an ancient practice of physical and mental exercises. Yoga poses, or asanas, are designed to move energy around the body and can be used to help clear blocked energy patterns or chakras and redirect energy to the parts of your body that need it most. It is a great form of exercise to do in conjunction with meditation and breathing techniques to maximize the benefits on both a physical and spiritual level.

Yoga is commonly believed to reduce stress, increase energy, build strength and flexibility, improve posture, reduce fatigue and assist in weight loss. With regular practice of yoga poses combined with mindful breathing techniques, you will be able to help maintain hormonal balance during colds. Yoga stretching exercises help in increasing the range of motion throughout your body while toning your muscles at the same time.

Yoga poses also increase circulation which better facilitates healing within your body due to improved oxygen delivery. Additionally, yoga can increase self-awareness so that you can become aware when your cold symptoms worsen before they become debilitating. There are many types of yoga for different physical capabilities – whether you are a beginner looking for basic poses or an advanced practitioner looking for more challenging ones – it’s important to find what resonates with you most!


The evidence for exercising with a cold is inconclusive. In some cases, exercise may be beneficial in improving overall symptoms of a common cold, such as fatigue, muscle pain and coughs. However, there is no solid evidence from studies that exercising with the common cold can prevent its spread or actually speed up recovery from the illness. It’s more important to take into account your individual physical condition and health history when deciding whether to exercise or not.

It’s always important to check with your healthcare provider prior to starting any workout routine if you are feeling unwell or if you have any underlying chronic health conditions that could potentially be worsened by physical activity. To be on the safe side, if you do have a cold it may be best to take some time off and rest until symptoms have fully dissipated.

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