Healthy Living

Exercising With the Common Cold

Exercising With a ColdThe common cold can be spread from one person to another in one touch. The National Center for Health Statistics reported that 62 million cases of the common cold occur every year producing 22 million days of missed work. One of the best places to pick up the cold (not to mention a more dangerous virus) is your local sports club.

Many people still hit the gym while sick, believing the work out will “sweat out” any fever or cold they are trying to catch. This leaves you at risk for picking up bacteria and fungi; both of which take home in warm, moist places. Think yoga mats, gym shower stalls, treadmill bars and saunas.

Some tips:

  • Always make sure that you wipe down any machine before and after use. Unless you physically see someone wipe down the machine before you get on, never assume that it is clean.
  • Put a towel down on gym yoga mats before you use them. These have been used over and over again in classes and personal training. Plus you don’t even know which side was the last to have been floor side down. Why are you doing child’s pose into this breeding ground of germs unprotected?
  • Always carry a small hand towel with you. This way if you are on the treadmill or taking a class you can wipe down your face and body with the towel, not  your hand. Unless you are consistently washing your hands throughout a work-out you have bound to touch something that is shared communally. Touching your face and eyes is one sure fire way to spread bacteria.
  • Never let your bare feet touch the floor, even if for a moment. Although you probably won’t catch a cold this way, you’re putting yourself at major risk for athlete’s foot and even HPV which can live on the bottom of people’s feet.

Now what about working out while sick?

So here is a question that a lot of people have. Should I hit the gym if I am feeling sick? There is a great answer to that! It has to do with your symptoms and where they occur.

Above the neck symptoms:

  • Runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, headache.
    • Of course it is a personal choice, but experts see no reason why you shouldn’t be able to hit the gym. Exercise does have immunity boosting benefits and going to the gym with these common symptoms can help you overcome them. Just make sure you are fair to others you share gym space with and keep yourself from coughing on other people or touching communal equipment with dirty hands.

Below the neck symptoms:

  • Runny nose, nasal congestion, sore throat, headache.
    • Working out while experiencing these below the neck symptoms put you at risk for putting your body in more stress and therefore worsening your symptoms. If you are experiencing these symptoms take a 2 day break until you feel better and then get back into your work-out routine.

Danae Matthews for Danae’s Corner and the on-line women’s health resource, Women’s Health Base.

Karla Urwitz
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