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Thursday
Nov012012

Can you exercise with a cold?

There's an old joke about a hurricane hitting New Jersey and causing ten million dollars worth of improvements , but given the events of the last few days it'd be tasteless to mention it.

But I just mentioned it so disregard that intro, I'll try again.

Hurricane Sandy, in the process of rudely hammering the East Coast of America, has apparently flooded the offices of our web hosts. Any minute now we could disappear (temporarily) from the inter-webs, leaving only a vacuum where once there was fitness related sarcasm.

But like the band playing on while the Titanic sank in that terrible James Cameron movie (can't remember the name), if I'm to go down I'll go down doing my job; answering fitness questions.

There's one I've been asked recently as a nasty cold virus has torn its way, Sandy -like, through the City of London, leaving in its wake a trail of snotty nosed financial analysts and bed ridden lawyers.

Can I still train with a cold?

Short answer? Nobody knows for sure. There's a surprising dearth of evidence one way or the other in fact. But the small number of studies I've come across are surprising.

Researchers at Ball State university set out to answer the question simply so they would know what to tell their athletes when they got sick.

Their research indicates that exercising even quite intensely while suffering from a cold does not lengthen the duration of the cold.

They also found it did not impact their athletes abilities to exercise, at least with respect to lung function.

Anecdotally, most avid exercisers, myself included, tend to train through illness unless we're feeling genuinely rotten, or have a high temperature or joint ache. And the research seems to support us. In fact according to Dr Leonard Kaminsky who ran the studies, people even felt better for having exercised.

When their athletes do want to take some time to recover or scale their training back, Dr Kaminsky tells them "that's ok for a short period of time. But what you have to be cautious of, where I see it as more of an issue, is with people who are trying to build an exercise habit. They've got all these barriers anyway."

So there you have it. Temperature and achy joints? Take a day off. But if you're just a bit under the weather then don't take it as an easy escape from training.

Ref-New York Times Dec 2008 "don't starve a cold of exercise"

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Reader Comments (1)

Many people would take the time off. Personally, I enjoy lifting and hate taking days off. However most people would take the day off just because it is an excuse. They should only take it off if they really do feel sick.

November 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertroy

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