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running with a cold

PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:05 pm
by wannabefitter
Should I run if I have a cold virus? Does excersise do more harm than good when unwell?

Re: running with a cold

PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 7:16 am
by fredrikw
Yes. When you have a virus infection in your body there's really nothing good that come out of training, rather the opposite where you risk spreading the virus to your heart muscles which can lead to several months of no training, or in the worst cases death. Perfectly healthy, fit and strong people have died from this, so please avoid this. I have friends who got away with "just" getting really sick from this, and had to stop training for several months.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:19 am
by wannabefitter
Wow. That's an answer. Thankyou.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 9:03 am
by bruncle
There's a lot of superstition about this topic. Everyone has advice, but it's basically all based on a study of one. It pleased me no end to discover that there actually has been some research done into whether you should continue training with a cold. Some masochistic (or financially motivated?) volunteers were infected with a strain of Rhinovirus (which causes the common cold) and after they'd all succumbed to the symptoms, the ruthless scientists put them on a treadmill to find out what would happen.

There were actually two separate studies: one to determine whether performance is affected by having a cold; and one to determine whether training through a cold would affect recovery time.

The results showed that performance level (as defined by a treadmill based fitness test) is not at all affected by cold symptoms. The participants did say that their perceived level of exertion was much higher, but they were still able to run just as fast as they could before as long as they ignored the headaches, snotty noses, phlegmy throats, etc. that they were all suffering from.

The other half of the study also came out with interesting results. The participants were split into two groups: a control group and an exercising group (not quite a double blind study, but the best they could do under the circumstances). The exercising group continued running after they had been infected by the cold, while the control group were free to lie in bed and moan all day. In the end, there was no significant difference in recovery time between the two groups.

Conclusion: HTFU and keep training.

(Can't find the actual citation but there's another synopsis of the study here ... ewsID=2160)

This only applies to colds though. The flu or anything more serious requires a bit of time off.

Something to be aware of for runners is the 'window of opportunity' for getting sick. After a hard/long run, your immune system is temporarily suppressed due to the stress you're placing on your body. So it's probably a good idea to stay away from sick people and crowds for a few hours after you're done running to reduce the risk of picking up something. Eating carbs straight afterwards is meant to help reduce this problem, but it's still there.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 10:38 am
by skoptic
I always go with the entirely unscientific rule of

"If the symptoms are above your neck (like a head cold / headache etc.) .. you can keep on training .. if they are below (like a cough) ... don't"

I'm not saying it's right .. but I haven't died yet :-)

PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 11:53 am
by fredrikw
I think it's a semantical difference in play here, for me cold means you have congestion, sore throat, cough, and possibly a fever. The below the shoulder rule of thumb is a pretty good one I think, because if it's anything apart from local congestion it sounds likely that it's a virus infection in your body.

I think it's hard to give advice based on this, but it's better to be safe than sorry when we don't have the whole background story.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 3:26 pm
by cyclebot
[quote="skoptic"]I always go with the entirely unscientific rule of

"If the symptoms are above your neck (like a head cold / headache etc.) .. you can keep on training .. if they are below (like a cough) ... don't"

I'm not saying it's right .. but I haven't died yet :-)

I bet you will one day!

PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 9:22 pm
by bruncle
I think that rule is actually quite scientific (good definition of a cold) and most sports doctors would agree with it.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:58 am
by Gelert
cold = Nostly upper respiratory tract infection

flu = Always lower respiratory tract infection

Shoulder rule, roughly said.

You may get away with just making a cold worse, but you may get killed if you have influenza. Those with long memories may recall the last time swine flu caused panic. It was in 1976, and it was down to a young, fit and healthy US Army recruit going on long route marches while infected with it. Caused international panic and a metric ton of lawsuits. All down to a mild infection aggravated by exercise.

The other thing to bear in mind is that training with a fever can be quite dangerous, as your body's thermostat is faulty and may not deal with the excess heat generated by training, or training in a cold place.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 3:47 pm
by skoptic
I bet you will one day!

LOL - Thanks for the vote of confidence!! :-)

PostPosted: Sun Nov 08, 2009 8:52 pm
by Tardigrada
How long should you wait before starting to train again?

PostPosted: Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:30 pm
by xrodolfox
[quote="Gelert"]You may get killed [training] if you have influenza.


however, I find that if I just have serious congestion, and what's generally considered a "cold", I get better quicker when I train.

However, if I at all feel more tired than usual, or at all feel ill in my lungs or below the neck, I don't do anything but rest and eat lots of soup.

Re: running with a cold

PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:45 pm
by jamesndawson
I know this is a very old post, so I hope nobody minds if I reply, with just some comments.
I've slacked off my running again, and want to get back to it, but I've had a cold for the last 10 days. I'm over the worst of it. I usually only have a day or two of the really bad sore throat, but I still have the mild chest congestion and the sort of slightly over-warm, scratchy feeling, mostly in the nose, which is runny, and of course the weak and "blah" feeling.
I've read from researching the Net that a healthy person shouldn't have such long colds, that if they do, they're doing something wrong, but it seems mine have usually dragged on like this for years, not the cold itself, but my colds have been of long duration when I have them.
I don't know if it'd kill me to run, but I don't want to prolong this. What about long walks or easy bike rides? I get so restless being sedentary.
I eat very well, lots of fruits and vegetables, the usual Vegan For Life advice.
Not really expecting any advice or solution, just venting mostly I guess.