It’s that time of year again, cold weather, common cold and other illnesses. When the Winter months set in many runners often ask, should I continue my run or workout through the symptoms of the cold or should I take some time to rest and recover?

While feeling under the weather, exercise is the last thing you really want to do, but in some cases, light to moderate exercise may actually help you feel better and recover. However, when your body is already under stress and not feeling well, pushing it might do more harm that good. Below I’ve provided a few tips to consider before pushing yourself.

  1. “Neck Rule”
    If your symptoms are above your neck such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or sore throat, light to moderate exercise should be okay. If your symptoms are below your neck such as chest congestion, coughing, upset stomach, muscle aches or swollen lymph nodes, time to rest and recover. Also, avoid exercising while having a fever!
  2. Exercise
    If you do decide to exercise while feeling under the weather, perform moderate workouts such as walking, jogging, and yoga instead of high-intensity workouts such as lifting weights and endurance running.
  3. Hydrate
    Keep hydrated! While fighting off symptoms of the cold many medications dehydrate individuals so it key that you continue to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids though-out the day and if you do decide to run or workout remember to hydrate even more to help replenish what the body has lost.
  4. Gym Workouts
    If you do decide to workout at a gym or public place due to cold temperatures outside please be courteous and remember to clean the machines before and after use. Also, try to use machines that are away from other individuals to avoid spreading or even catching another bug from close-by individuals.
  5. Wash Your Hands
    WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY! While feeling under the weather continue to wash your hands frequently to help avoid spreading the illness to other areas and individuals. Also, it’s key to remember to wash your hands after working out at the gym, using public spaces and before eating.

Finally, always listen to your body. For some it can be very frustrating to take time off, but when you’re not feeling 100%, you’re not performing at 100%. If you do continue to run or workout, dial it back a bit, focus on low intensity workouts and most importantly give your body time to heal! If you are able to do this you will be back to your regular runs or workouts in no time!