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Exercise while sick?
Old 11-05-2007, 12:02 PM   #1
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Exercise while sick?

In one of my recent posts I bragged about never catching a cold. It appears that the universe decided I needed a humbling experience. So now I have the first cold in four years. I'm wondering if there's any new info out there on treating or dealing with a cold.

I'm not sick with a fever, just a headache, sneezy, and runny nose and a little achey and tired. So have you ever continued exercising with a cold and how did that work for you? I've heard various recommendations. Also, I'm taking Vitamin C because that used to work for me but does anyone have other remedies that have worked to get themselves well faster?

Any advice appreciated. *sniff sniff, ahhhh schew!!!*
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Old 11-05-2007, 12:22 PM   #2
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Generally, if you have only a cold you can continue to work out, but cut yourself some slack if you off your game. Be extra sure to keep liquids on board, since you tend to dehydrate when sick.

If you have the flu or other illness with fever and such, wait until the worst is over before resuming exercise.
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Old 11-05-2007, 12:29 PM   #3
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I just have data from a case study - me. I'm a regular exerciser, 5+ days a week for most of my adult life. About 10 years ago I decided to try to be smarter and stop working out when sick (head cold level, not flu symptoms or anything like that) in the hopes of getting better faster. I really didn't see a difference in recovery rate, and it made me feel bad mentally to no be working out. So now, I work out when I'm sick, but at a reduced level, perhaps 60-70% of my normal exertion. This way I feel good that I've worked out, but don't feel that it's increased or extended my symptoms.

x-posted with Sandy, same message .
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Old 11-05-2007, 12:52 PM   #4
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The word I've heard about running is to keep running if it is above your chest, but if the cold has settled in your chestor you are achy all over, don't run. I don't know the science behind it, and whether it applies to other types of workouts, but I've generally followed this with no bad results. I take it a bit easier in any case, and I'm not obsessive about following a training schedule like some runners are.
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Old 11-05-2007, 02:22 PM   #5
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I've also heard the "neck up" advice -- if the symptoms are above the neck, a reduced-intensity workout is probably okay as long as you're not taxing yourself too much and it's not making you feel worse. But if the symptoms are below the neck, just rest.
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Old 11-05-2007, 03:21 PM   #6
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working out with a cold not a problem for you but a potential problem for people around you if you workout at a gym.
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Old 11-05-2007, 03:29 PM   #7
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I advise people to avoid strenuous exertion if you have a fever. While there is no evidence to support anything in this area, fever tends to irritate the heart muscle and the risk of an arrhythmia is plausibly greater with a high body temperature.

As for routine minor colds, I run with them all the time. Get's a little sputtery at times, but I usually feel good afterwards; no record-breakers, just leisurely jogs. Stomach flu is a little trickier but only because the jarring motion might hurt, you may get the runs on the run, and unlike a routine cold, you never quite know what you are dealing with as a cause for abdominal pain.

A few days off is good for the body and soul.
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Old 11-05-2007, 04:16 PM   #8
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Thanks a lot, Rich, and everyone else! It appears the consensus is to continue with moderate exercise as long as it doesn't wear me out and make me sicker.

Lazy, no way would I go to the gym with any kind of illness.

I guess no one has any magic secrets for the common cold.*sigh*
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Old 11-05-2007, 05:31 PM   #9
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Of course the contrarian has to show up. My opinion is to take a couple days off. I do this not to get over my illness quicker, but so I don't overtrain. The way I think about it is my body is doing all it can to fight whatever illness it has and since that is an active invasion I believe (nothing more than belief no proof) the body would devote more resources to getting better than repairing any "injury" caused by exercising. Since when I workout, I work very vigorously the last thing I want to do is train then injury myself because my body did not devote enough resources to repairing itself and be out of the game for an extended period of time.
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Old 11-05-2007, 05:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I guess no one has any magic secrets for the common cold.*sigh*
I do chicken soup , an old flannel bathrobe and several chic flics !
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Old 11-05-2007, 07:46 PM   #11
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Of course the contrarian has to show up. My opinion is to take a couple days off. I do this not to get over my illness quicker, but so I don't overtrain. The way I think about it is my body is doing all it can to fight whatever illness it has and since that is an active invasion I believe (nothing more than belief no proof) the body would devote more resources to getting better than repairing any "injury" caused by exercising.
When I'm sick I don't lift or surf or do tae kwon do, but I'll still stretch out and go for easy walks.

Otherwise your rate of atrophy sometimes exceeds your rate of recovery...
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Old 11-05-2007, 09:25 PM   #12
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Last year I ran Grandma's Marathon in Duluth with the start of a cold. I felt a scratchy throat the day I flew up there, so I took some meds along knowing it would probably turn into a stuffy nose by race day. I was primed for this race, trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, so I decided to go ahead and push as long as I felt reasonably ok.

I had no fever or headache race morning, so I took more or less a double dose of nasal decongestant before the race...wasn't sure if it was smart, and I don't like doing something totally different before a marathon, but I had a hunch I'd need it to breathe and I'd be ok with it. I wrote down what I took on the back of my race bib just in case something happened and I wasn't coherant or conscious enough to talk, and resolved to be very aware of how I was feeling.

As it turns out, the heat and humidity did me in. I ran the first 15 miles a bit faster than target pace and felt great, and felt just as fine the next 3 but I slowed by 40 seconds/mile with the same effort, then someone tied an anchor to my waist for the final 8 miles and I missed my target by 16 full minutes. But I never felt in any danger. And my cold never really got into my chest. I don't know if it makes sense, but maybe I flushed it out of my system.
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Old 11-06-2007, 03:02 PM   #13
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When I'm sick I don't lift or surf or do tae kwon do, but I'll still stretch out and go for easy walks.

Otherwise your rate of atrophy sometimes exceeds your rate of recovery...
Thanks, that's an issue I hadn't thought of. Damn. I hate being sick. I don't feel like doing anything except lie on the couch and watch TV.

I'm thinking about getting a flu shot this year. Anyone else get those for preventative reason?
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Old 11-06-2007, 03:04 PM   #14
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I had no fever or headache race morning, so I took more or less a double
As it turns out, the heat and humidity did me in. I ran the first 15 miles a bit faster than target pace and felt great, and felt just as fine the next 3 but I slowed by 40 seconds/mile with the same effort, then someone tied an anchor to my waist for the final 8 miles and I missed my target by 16 full minutes. But I never felt in any danger. And my cold never really got into my chest. I don't know if it makes sense, but maybe I flushed it out of my system.
I have read that if you have a cold raising your body temperature through exercise, or sauna, bath, etc. can have a good effect. Maybe marathon running is the magic remedy!
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Old 11-06-2007, 03:54 PM   #15
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I have read that if you have a cold raising your body temperature through exercise, or sauna, bath, etc. can have a good effect. Maybe marathon running is the magic remedy!
Well, it does tend to "break" a fever if you have one, and if nothing else that can temporarily alleviate the yucky feeling you get from having it.
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Old 11-06-2007, 06:41 PM   #16
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I've had the flu for several days, and felt so miserable I haven't worked out.........
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Old 11-07-2007, 06:43 AM   #17
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Last year I ran Grandma's Marathon in Duluth with the start of a cold. I felt a scratchy throat the day I flew up there, so I took some meds along knowing it would probably turn into a stuffy nose by race day. I was primed for this race, trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, so I decided to go ahead and push as long as I felt reasonably ok.

I had no fever or headache race morning, so I took more or less a double dose of nasal decongestant before the race...wasn't sure if it was smart, and I don't like doing something totally different before a marathon, but I had a hunch I'd need it to breathe and I'd be ok with it. I wrote down what I took on the back of my race bib just in case something happened and I wasn't coherant or conscious enough to talk, and resolved to be very aware of how I was feeling.

As it turns out, the heat and humidity did me in. I ran the first 15 miles a bit faster than target pace and felt great, and felt just as fine the next 3 but I slowed by 40 seconds/mile with the same effort, then someone tied an anchor to my waist for the final 8 miles and I missed my target by 16 full minutes. But I never felt in any danger. And my cold never really got into my chest. I don't know if it makes sense, but maybe I flushed it out of my system.

After my bout with pericarditis Viral caused by a cold and running when I get sick these days I dial it back. I might jog a mile or two I might even not run one two or three days in a row and take it easy. If its in the chest I shut it down above the chest in the head I will continue to run and evaluate how I feel during the workout.
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Old 11-07-2007, 05:34 PM   #18
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Also, I'm taking Vitamin C because that used to work for me but does anyone have other remedies that have worked to get themselves well faster?
I know the doctors say there's no medical proof, but DH and I both use Zicam to shorten the length and severity of our head colds and it works like a charm. You can buy it at any drugstore and it comes in various forms. DH uses the nasal spray, I use the nasal swabs. If it's the placebo effect - fine, whatever, all I know is that it works for us. The only thing is that it won't help you once you are well into the cold, you've got to start taking it soon after you feel the first symptoms (sorry, Oldbabe it's already too late for you but just in case you get another one....). It doesn't get rid of the cold and it doesn't prevent it but it seems to make the symptoms significantly less severe than they otherwise would have been.

As for working out, I'm with most of the other posters. As long as it isn't the flu, I keep working out although I reduce the intensity. I find that moderate exercise while I'm sick really helps to clear out the sinuses.
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Old 11-07-2007, 10:19 PM   #19
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I have used Zicam often and feel that it has helped me.

I was reading the Alternative Health board at Motley Fool yesterday and found this posting by Sheila (who seems well-versed in medical studies, etc.) that seemed to be appropriate for this thread:

"Black elderberry extract is a fantastic anti-viral. You can get the extract by Herb Pharm at most health food stores. Use 2 droppers in a bit of water 4x/day, for avoiding something that's coming on, or quickly clearing something you've come down with. New Chapter has just come out with a potent black elderberry extract in a chewable lozenge--very easy to keep a few on you. It's called Blockade. You take 1 a day as a preventive, 2 a day as therapy. It's at health food stores, but much less expensive at Vitacost.com.

It had been available for some time in syrup form, called Sambucol. The Israeli company that makes it has new marketing plans now, I understand, but you can still find it in some health food stores. That works fabulously too. I just don't like how sweet and sticky it is.

Zicam has zinc in it. The evidence on zinc is very iffy. One study says yes, another says no. The evidence on black elderberry is strong and consistent, and proven to act to ramp up production and activity of antibodies specifically against the virus that's infecting you."
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Old 11-08-2007, 12:48 PM   #20
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Echinacea and heavy doses of vitamin C "shorten" my colds.

Though I remain a firm believer in: a) Go to a Doctor with a cold, take their prescribed medicine and it will last 7 to 10 days. or) Do nothing and it will last 7 to 10 days.

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