An Evergreen Question: Shall I Exercise With A Cold?

In the last two months you haven\’t missed a single training. You can see your body transforming day by day. You feel stronger, you feel healthier. Even walking on the street has never been easier. Your partner and colleagues are remarking that you look different in a good way. You can\’t wait to attend your training session the next time and go further. The next day you wake up excited for the next practice when you realize you are low on energy and even coughing… Yes, you\’ve got a cold. What is the next step? Shall you stay at home and miss some exercises or can you go and train right away? Well, it depends on your symptoms. Usually we differentiate between two groups of symptoms: the above the neck and the below the neck symptoms.

a man blowing his nose

Above the neck symptoms

  • Nasal congestion
  • Running nose
  • Mild sore throat
  • Sneezing

With the above mentioned you can continue your workouts, just make sure that you tone down on the intensity. Your immune system works best if it is resting, so if you are already sick it is a wise decision to give it some extra rest. Reduce the number of reps and if you feel like you are getting worse during the workout just finish it early. It is important that even after feeling better you should just gradually get back to your pre-sickness workout level. Keep in mind that in cases like this you should pay extra attention to hygiene as you can easily transfer your disease. Wash your hands regularly and try sneezing into your shoulder not your palms.

Below the neck symptoms

  • Chest congestion
  • Bad stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive coughing
  • Vomiting

These symptoms would suggest that your sickness is not in its early stage anymore. The best thing you can do is resting. Taking off 2-3 days won\’t really impair your performance and it is best not to play around with these symptoms.

The conclusion is that in most cases, when the cold is not too serious (above the neck symptoms), then you should at least try attending your next workout. Decrease the number of reps and finish early if your body tells you so. If the cold gets worse (below the neck symptoms) you should stay at home. In both cases it is crucial that if you feel better, you should gradually get back to the level of your previous workouts.


Mayoclinic – Is it OK to exercise if I have a cold?
The New York Times – Don’t Starve a Cold of Exercise
Men\’s Health – Should You Work Out With a Cold?