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“Can You Still Exercise When You’re Under the Weather? Here’s What the Experts Say”

January is a popular month for fitness resolutions, but the season also brings a wave of colds and illnesses. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to ditch your workout plans if your symptoms are above the neck, according to experts.

Dr. Sanjay Bhojraj, an interventional cardiologist, advises that if your symptoms are limited to the head, such as a head cold, sore throat, or sinus congestion, you can probably still engage in exercise. These mild infections are typically self-limited and won’t worsen with physical activity. Nasal congestion may even improve with exercise.

However, Dr. Bhojraj suggests opting for lighter workouts like walking or gentle Yin yoga instead of intense activities if you’re feeling unwell. If your temperature is 100°F or higher, it’s advisable to skip your workout to avoid prolonged recovery.

Dr. Robert Biernbaum, chief medical officer for WellNow Urgent Care, emphasizes that exercising with a cold is possible with reduced intensity. You can modify your workout by decreasing sets, shortening the duration, or lifting lighter weights. For runners, maintaining an easy pace or choosing a gentle activity like easy yoga is recommended.

When it comes to the flu, which usually brings more severe symptoms, it’s best to rest and avoid exercise. Dr. Biernbaum advises waiting to resume physical activity, as exercising with a fever could stress your body’s system.

Whether exercise makes you feel better or worse during an illness depends on the type of illness. Dr. Biernbaum notes that light to moderate exercise, like walking, may boost energy levels and circulation if you’re not running a fever or experiencing shortness of breath. However, he emphasizes that exercise won’t shorten the duration of a cold or flu, and it’s essential to stay hydrated, get enough rest, and consult a medical professional if symptoms persist.

Always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider if you have concerns about exercising while under the weather.

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