It’s that time of year when colds are most likely to hit us and we’re faced with the usual question, ‘should I train when I have a cold?’
There are a few simple rules of thumb to follow in this situation and it’s important not to confuse symptoms of the common cold with proper flu. We all know that man-flu is the worst condition ever known and is potentially life threatening, but that’s another topic, so for today we’ll stick to normal cold and flu symptoms.
A typical common cold will produce symptoms of sneezing, a runny nose or nasal congestion, causing a headache, and a sore throat and generally makes you feel pretty ropy.
Despite all of these symptoms, which are all above the neck, it is generally OK to continue to train, however you may need to make some adjustments to what you do. If you do decide to do weight training whilst you have a cold we’d recommend reducing the volume. You should be able to maintain the same weights that you’re used to lifting but you will likely find that your muscular endurance is compromised, so reduce how much you do. For example, if you normally do 5 reps x 5 sets then you could do 3 x 5 instead.
In addition to reducing volume, you should think about avoiding any intense cardio sessions as these will elevate your body temperature and heart rate which will already be higher than normal whilst your body is fighting the infection.
Moderate exercise won't prolong a cold or make your symptoms worse, but it certainly won’t shorten them either as it’s just not possible to ‘sweat out’ a cold. Exercising may actually give some temporary relief from congestion, if you’re well hydrated, but could make it worse if you’re dehydrated.
If you’re experiencing more serious symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting, weakness, fever or a productive cough, we’d recommend that you rest your body and take some time off from exercise to allow your body to recover.
You’re best off fighting your cold by getting plenty of rest and sleep, staying hydrated, and taking over-the-counter medications to relieve your symptoms, if needed.
If you have proper flu then ‘shall I train?’ won’t be a question that enters your head. You’ll be in bed with no wish to come to the gym.
Unfortunately once you have a cold there’s no way to get rid of it, but you can ease the symptoms until it passes, typically within 7 to 10 days.
Here are some tips for staying on top of the symptoms:
Drink plenty of fluids
Staying hydrated will help reduce congestion and warm drinks can offer relief for your cough and sore-throat symptoms.
Sleep is essential for your body to rest and heal as it allows your immune system to fight off infections. Do what you can to get that extra rest. Using a humidifier or nasal decongestant can help you breathe better as you sleep.
Keep things clean
Cleanliness will help keep the virus under control and help prevent it from spreading. Colds are
spread by germs from coughs and sneezes which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours so clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and at work.
If you come into the studio, make use of the antibacterial hand gel provided in each room. We’ll do our part by wiping down equipment and the floor mats after use.