Can You Exercise With A Cold?

There’s nothing more annoying than smashing your training plan for weeks on end and just when you start to see progress, you come down with a cold. That tickle in your throat leading to a full on sniffling mess — kudos to you if you’re even considering a gym session when you feel this bad. So, should you do it, or give yourself some R&R? Here’s what you need to know.


Above or below the neck?

When it comes to knowing whether you can sweat it out, you should always first listen to your body. If you’re absolutely exhausted, then missing a session or two won’t make too much of a difference in the long run.

The second rule is: “Are your symptoms below or above your neck?”

Feeling congested and have a sore throat? You’re probably perfectly fine to do some light or moderate exercise. If you’ve got a HIIT session or a heavy weights session planned, you should probably opt for something a little easier. Going in too hard can put off your recovery and just make you feel worse. Instead, fight your symptoms with vitamin supplements and decongestants, then you should be feeling good enough for a light workout.

If your symptoms are below the neck, this is a whole different story. Any coughing, breathing problems, nausea, or aches and pains mean you should definitely be skipping that workout and staying in bed.


Stop the spread

If you are ill, but still plan on working out, try and stop it spreading by washing your hands before and cleaning equipment down when you’re done. It’s also probably better to avoid peak times, or busy classes so that you’re not coughing and spluttering over other gym goers.

You could always try a light bodyweight workout from the comfort of your own home, or practice some yoga — just keep the intensity down until you’re feeling better.


Take home message

Remember that no workout is worth making yourself feel even worse — take a break from your routine if you really need it. You’ll also be saving your gym buddies from catching it too. If you’re feeling like it’s just a head cold, then there’s nothing stopping you dosing up and getting out there for some light exercise. The most important thing is to listen to what your body needs.

Evangeline Howarth

Evangeline Howarth

Writer and expert

Evangeline is a Veganuary convert and newbie vegan with a degree in English and French from the University of Nottingham. Having recently ditched the meat and dairy, she really enjoys the new flavours and cooking techniques she’s encountered on a plant-based diet. She’s been shocked by the millions of ways you can use tofu, however still hasn’t found a decent cheese substitute! When she’s not in the office or eating, Evangeline usually out running or sailing. As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor and a marathon runner, she knows the importance of providing your body with the right nutrients for endurance sports as well as a busy lifestyle. Find out more about Evie's experience here.