Can I Workout If I Have a Cold?

Find out whether it’s safe to workout when you have a cold, and learn some tips for working out with a cold.


It’s common to wonder whether it’s safe to hit the gym while you’re fighting a cold. After all, exercise can help keep us healthy—but it can also make us more susceptible to illness. Knowing when to rest is sometimes just as important as knowing when to get your blood pumping. So, can you work out with a cold? That depends on the severity of your symptoms and how much energy you have.

If your Cold is Mild:
If you feel well enough for an easy jog or light yoga class, then go ahead and work out. But if you’re worried about aggravating an upper respiratory infection, it’s best not to push yourself too hard — stick with low-intensity exercise until you’ve felt better for several days.

If Your Cold is Severe:
Sweaty workouts are out of the question if your symptoms are severe — that goes double if you’ve been diagnosed with pneumonia or bronchitis. Exercise will elevate your heart rate, which could further strain your already weakened system — so save strenuous workouts for another day! In all cases, be sure to talk over any serious illness with a doctor before exercising in any form.

What is a Cold?

A cold, or viral upper respiratory infection, is a contagious illness that is generally caused by one of the viruses in the Rhinovirus family. Cold symptoms typically include nasal congestion, sneezing and a sore throat. In some cases, colds may be accompanied by other symptoms such as coughing and a low-grade fever. It is very important to know how to recognize a cold as it will greatly affect how you should proceed with exercising.

In order to decide whether or not it is safe for you to exercise with a cold, it is necessary to distinguish between the kind of exercise that you want to do and its overall intensity. Generally speaking, if your body shows signs of fatigue or weakness due to the presence of a cold then it’s best to take some time off from your regular activity and rest until your symptoms subside for two days or more. If physical activity does not cause any discomfort or worsen existing symptoms then gentle exercises like walking are acceptable as long as they are done at low intensity levels. In addition, activities like stretching or visualization drills have also been known to help reduce stress associated with having a cold while providing beneficial exercise-like benefits without straining the body too much while sick.

What are the Symptoms of a Cold?

When it comes to deciding whether or not to exercise with a cold, the primary factor to consider is the presence and severity of cold symptoms. Although there is a range of symptoms associated with a cold, some of the most common ones include:
-Runny nose
-Frequent coughing
-Nasal congestion
-Sore throat
-Body aches
-Low fever
-Loss of appetite
If you experience any combination of these symptoms, it’s important to assess their severity before engaging in any exercise. More severe symptoms like fever, body aches and persistent coughs may indicate an illness more serious than a simple cold. If your symptoms are mild to moderate and your congestion is light, then you might be able to work out. However, even with mild symptoms, it’s best to start out slow and stop immediately if your condition worsens during exercise.

What are the Risks of Working Out With a Cold?

Working out while you are sick can decrease your effectiveness in the gym, leave you feeling worse afterward, and ultimately increase the duration of your illness. It is important to weigh the risks against potential benefits before deciding to workout with a cold.

Research suggests that exercising with even mild cold symptoms such as achy muscles, coughing, and sneezing may not be dangerous for healthy adults but could still lead to more extensive symptoms and longer recovery time. If your cold includes more serious symptoms such as a fever, chest pain/tightness, or difficulty breathing without exertion then it is likely not safe for you to exercise. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider if you are uncertain if it is safe for you to workout with a cold before proceeding.

When working out while sick, it is important to take extra precaution and maintain a level of modified activity that allows enough rest time needed for recovery from illness. Choose exercises that involve no contact with other people or equipment (bodyweight exercises like squats or pushups) and listen closely to Your body’s response – muscle fatigue will be much greater than normal due to decreased energy levels as well as fever related muscle aches/inflammation caused by infection.

In general, it’s best to use caution when deciding whether or not to exercise when experiencing any type of illness—listening closely to your body’s signals and consulting with a healthcare professional can help determine the best course of action.

What Types of Exercises Can I Do With a Cold?

Even if you’re not feeling well enough to exercise at your usual intensity, some light to moderate exercises can still be beneficial when you’re battling a cold. Low-intensity activities such as walking and light jogging, cycling at an easy pace, and gentle stretching can help reduce symptoms by improving circulation in your body and encouraging easier breathing. It’s important to respect your body and listen to what it is telling you. If your symptoms worsen or get worse after exercising, then stop immediately.

In general, the following types of activities are safe when working out with a cold:
-Low-intensity aerobic activities such as walking or light jogging
-Cycling at an easy pace
-Gentle stretching such as yoga or pilates
-Light weight training exercises with lighter weights
Remember, any exercise should only be done if you are feeling well enough to do so; the key is doing it safely. It is best to consult with a medical professional before starting any new workout routine if you have mild symptoms of a cold.

When Should I Avoid Working Out With a Cold?

Although exercise might help take your mind off the discomfort of a cold, it’s not always wise to engage in physical activity while you are ill. A cold is a virus that affects the whole body, so there is always a risk of pushing yourself too hard and making your condition worse. Make sure to pay attention to your body and don’t put yourself in jeopardy by engaging in strenuous physical activity while you are sick.

In general, if your cold symptoms are above the neck (runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, sinus congestion or pressure) it is usually safe to proceed with light activity like walking or yoga; however if you have significant chest congestion or fever, it is best to rest.

No two people respond to illness in exactly the same manner so it’s important for you to use your best judgment when deciding how much and what type of exercise is best for you during a cold. Consult with your physician or trusted healthcare practitioner for advice tailored specifically for your condition. In most cases light physical activity can be beneficial; however use caution and listen to your body before participating in any physical activity while sick with a cold.

How Can I Prevent Getting a Cold?

The possibility of catching a cold can naturally be concerning when you’re trying to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. While getting a cold is inevitable, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.

The first step is to practice good hygiene habits. This could involve washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your eyes and nose, and not sharing utensils or other items with potentially sick individuals. Supplementing your hygiene with regular exercise is also important since physical activity helps strengthen the immune system. Proper nutrition with plenty of fruits and vegetables can also do wonders for strengthening the body’s natural defenses against viruses.

On top of these things, make sure that you get enough restful sleep. Sleep deprivation can reduce the body’s capacity to fight off infections and viruses such as a common cold. If possible, try to maintain at least 8 hours of sleep every night even if you’re in a busy period or have had an extra-long workout session during the day. Finally, supplementing your activities with vitamins C and D might give you an extra edge when it comes to staying healthy overall.


After reviewing the available scientific evidence, it appears that it is generally safe to exercise when you have a cold as long as your symptoms are not severe. However, it is important to assess your individual situation and consult with your doctor if you have any doubts. Additionally, it is advisable to avoid strenuous activity and take care of yourself while recovering from your illness. Resting to help your body recover and drinking plenty of fluids can be beneficial in speeding up the recovery process. Ultimately, understanding your individual condition and exercising at a comfortable level that works best for you is the key to staying healthy.

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