There is a popular belief that when you are sick with the common cold you can get better by simply ‘sweating it out’ through exercise. This idea is great in theory: opening our sweat glands allows toxins to pour out of our bodies, exercise is good for us and can help improve our overall health, and moving as opposed to resting can help us increase our overall energy levels. Unfortunately, healing our bodies of a cold takes more than just hitting the gym once or twice. When we are sick with a cold, our bodies need rest, hydration and nourishment—exercise is the last thing we need.
Why Exercise Won’t Help
The common cold is manageable and does not usually require you to visit a doctor or use any prescription medication, although its’ effects and severity differ among individuals. One of the most common symptoms of a cold is a fever, which has driven the belief that the more we sweat, the quicker we will recover. As a matter of fact, our bodies increase our internal temperatures as a way to fight viral and bacterial infections, therefore sweating is merely a result of our bodies attempting to heal themselves. Fevers are a way of our bodies naturally fighting against infection, promoting sweating through exercise only disrupts this process.
There are also several risks associated to exercising while ill. Remember that when we have a cold, our immune function is far less resilient and strong compared to when we are healthy. This draws two major concerns to consider before hitting the gym next time we feel symptoms of a cold developing:
- the physical demand of exercise is overpowering on our already weakened body, which can make for worsened symptoms and a longer recovery time
- The amount of germs that live inside fitness facilities, both on the equipment and in the locker room, are of no benefit to recovery and if anything will only worsen our symptoms due to the bodies already weakened immune system
So, What Works?
Rather than hitting the gym, it’s a better idea to take a day or two off and catch up on much needed rest. Although it may seem annoying as the demands of life don’t slow down as we do, the extra time spent laying low will pay off. While recovering, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and decaffeinated tea, avoiding caffeine and alcohol at all costs. There are a lot of at-home remedies that can help us battle the common cold, but all in all, exercise is definitely not one of them.
By Julia Solimine