Can you still go running with a cold?
By Garry Hill, Cambridge fitness coach and runner
I’ve been lucky enough not to have suffered a cold since last year but, as I sit typing this article, I’m suffering from a really bad one. But of course, being a man, it’s no ordinary cold in fact I think that I’m just a short step away from full blown pneumonia!
Needless to say I’m not getting any sympathy at home whatsoever.
Compounding my misery is the fact that I haven’t had a run or been in the gym for days. The most exercise I've done is opening the child proof top on the bottle of Night Nurse. But have I done the right thing by avoiding exercise while suffering this cold?
Well, some research, makes it clear that one of the reasons that I’ve been lucky enough not to suffer any colds or similar ailments since last year is at least partially due to exercising. It’s thought that regular exercise increases our resilience to both viral and bacterial illness by reducing stress and increasing the circulation of white blood cells, which aids the body's immune response.
The question of should you continue to run if you have a cold seems to split opinion though. One train of thought is that if the cold is neck up, so just in your nose/head, it is OK to do some easy runs. But if the cold is neck down, residing on your chest, giving you a chesty cough, then it is advisable to avoid running until it has cleared up. If you train too hard while the virus is in the chest it can embed it deeper into the cardiovascular system, making things a lot worse.
It seems then that the wisest thing to do all round is to follow the other line of thinking and take a week off from running while the cold runs its course. This will allow your body to fight the infection with all its energies and hopefully throw off the dreaded lurgy a bit quicker than if you had continued exercising. Additionally, you will hopefully be reducing the possibility of turning a simple head cold into a chest infection.
So, apart from refraining from running, what can you do to help yourself shake that cold? Speaking from personal experience I take a daily 1,000mg vitamin C tablet and double it when I have a cold and combine that with Echinacea and some generic cold remedy pills or drinks.
Echinacea is thought to have anti-viral properties that help our bodies to fight viral infections and stop the virus spreading. Vitamin C strengthens our immune system and studies have shown that it can reduce the annoying symptoms of a cold such as a runny nose, and sore throat.
But of course everyone is individual, so try some different remedies until you find one that suits you. Do this and you can go out and get running again in no time instead of being sat on the sofa feeling sorry for yourself.