How To Exercise With A Cold

One of many photos of a dog w/ an ice pack
This week one of my clients had a head cold. He texted a few hours before our meeting to say that he didn't want to cancel, but thought that I should know that he was pretty congested.

That's a great heads up to give your trainer, by the way. Because my guy let me know, I was able to mull it over, look a few things up, and make sure that I was ready. Pro tip!



The first thing you should know is that a fever is different from a cold, right?

If your temperature is high, you have chills, dizziness, explosive diarrhea, and you are swearing vengeance against the Gods of influenza, don't exercise. Don't go to the gym. Just make some bone broth and get some sleep.

But a head cold is different. If you've got congestion, sinus pressure, maybe a scratchy throat, but not a diseased throat you can probably get some shit done. Keep in mind though, your workout goals should be different and your approach should probably change.

High intensity exercise- let's say sprints as an example- is a pretty great illness-free exercise (If you like running. If you don't like running, get over it, this is just an example. I'm not telling you to start sprinting right now, asshole. Why won't you shut up and let me get on with my article?) You're not sick so you sprint. Great.

High intensity exercise taxes your body, usually in a good way. You're pushing yourself. You're improving. You're making gains.

Now you've got a cold. If you do some sprints at your standard high intensity, you'll still tax yourself, but now, not in a good way. When you're healthy with a healthy immune system, your body repairs itself and overcomes the "healthy" damage you have done. When you've got a cold, your immune system is working the fuck out of itself. It's all like, "What the fuck!?! Let's get this shit fixed up, bitch!"And you come along and start doing sprints because you're a dickhead. You're immune system cries out to the Gods of the common cold, drops to it's knees, and weeps. It fucking weeps!

However, the right kind of exercise has actually been found to strengthen your immune system and, in some cases, reduce symptoms and speed up the recovery process.

Basically, you're looking for a low to moderate intensity series of movements. Some folks have laid out a detailed system of "Day 1, do this. Day 2, do this." But that's kind of crazy. How do you count days of sick? What if I kind of had the sniffles yesterday and tomorrow I have full on sinus problems? What the fuck day is it?

All you're looking for is a steady, normal walking pace, a light yoga (maybe without your head between your legs), or even the damn elliptical. Move your body around, steady, for 30-45 minutes, not breaking a sweat. Maybe this becomes a flexibility/mobility day. This low end of moderate movement helps you keep to your movement/exercise schedule, gets blood into your muscles, and, as with my client this week, actually cleared up his congestion for a while.

Also, there are a lot of internet photos of people pouring water through their face. Personally, if a day goes by and I forget to do this, I fucking throw shit.