Sports and the cold – is sweating it out a good way to fight infections?

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Sports and the cold – is sweating it out a good way to fight infections?

Leading an athletic lifestyle and practicing regular workouts, you may have the impression that skipping one cycle of exercise will cause a decline in form or even loss of results.

Hence the popular opinion that doing sport during a cold is healthy for the body and will help us stay fit. Will the physical effort really bring positive results in such a situation?

Unfortunately, it is impossible to answer this question unequivocally. Everything depends on the type of training we do and the severity of the illness.

When to give up?

If the cold you’re suffering from makes it difficult for you to function normally, you have a fever and feel fatigue throughout your body, training is the last thing on your mind. The idea of “sweating out the illness” through increased physical activity is simply wrong.

During a cold, our body focuses on fighting off viruses and getting well. Intense exercise causes our bodies to release a hormone called cortisol, which has anti-inflammatory effects and is responsible for blood glucose levels. Training will have the opposite effect – the immune system will focus on recovery rather than fighting the disease. This can lead to a situation where you not only don’t cure the cold but make it worse

You should also take into account the health of other people. It is not a good idea to go to the gym or other public sports place and infect other exercising people.

When to exercise?

There is a so-called neck rule, according to which symptoms occurring below the head, such as shortness of breath in the chest, coughing with secretions, muscle pains and the like are a clear sign to stop training. Symptoms above the neck, such as a runny nose, scratchy throat or a slight headache should not be a contraindication to exercise

Of course you should be reasonable and not throw yourself into the most demanding exercises. Remember that sport should transfer health, not complications. It is recommended to reduce the intensity of training in such conditions by about 30% and to control your mood. Feeling a clear deterioration, you should return home as soon as possible or go to the doctor

The type of sport practiced is not as important here as the intensity itself. When training bodybuilding – take lighter dumbbells, when running – reduce the pace and distance, focus on quiet yoga and stretching, do not overload your body unnecessarily. At the same time do not forget about proper hydration.

Sport and immunity

It is not without reason that they say: “in a healthy body a healthy spirit!”. Regular participation in sport has a positive effect on our immune system. People who undertake appropriate training are less prone to infection of the upper respiratory tract and fall ill less often, and the course itself is milder. The most important thing is not to overexert yourself, as high intensity exercise can lower immunity in the short term.

Once again – let’s keep common sense. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and suddenly jump into a training session, you cannot count on good results. However, balanced and systematic sport can mobilize the body to produce antibodies and fight microorganisms during a mild cold. Admittedly, it will not be a “method to sweat out the disease”, but it will certainly improve our health.

Main photo: Karolina Grabowska/

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