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Benefits of working out with a cold

November 19, 2012 1:50:17 PM PST
Tis the season for colds and flu. So if you're not feeling great, should you go to the gym and exercise?

Will it boost your immune system and make you feel better? Or worse? It's not black and white but there are definite dos and don'ts

Your nose is running, you're feeling kind of lousy, so should you drag yourself to the gym? Or stay in bed?

"I actually do work out when I don't feel well, I have a little sore throat right now and it makes me feel better," said Nickiann Bussanich.

In most cases, if you just have a mild cold, exercise may in fact be helpful.

"Exercise improves and boosts the immune system and secondarily there are certain chemicals and endorphins that are released during exercise that'll make you feel better while you're having a cold,' said Dr. Morey Menacker with Hackensack University Medical Center.

Research shows that mild to moderate exercise helps the body make more immune cells that fight infection. But only to a certain point.

There are times you definitely should not work out. Like if you have a fever. Your heart rate is already high, your body's working harder. Exercise is extra stress your body does not need.

"If you're significantly ill if you have a lung infection, pneumonia the problem with exercise is your oxygen levels could decrease. But with colds, and upper respiratory infections, clearly continue those workouts," adds Dr. Menacker.

If you do workout, give yourself a break. Make it a lighter workout. And don't forget your fellow gym members. Mike Epstein, Co-Owner of Golds Gym in Paramus says wipe the equipment off and show a little courtesy.

"If you're really under the weather and you might have something contagious, be courteous to your fellow gym members and maybe take that day off and come back a day when you're feeling better," he said.

Not everyone is courteous and wipes down the equipment, so the best solution for you is to wash your own hands after you finish up.

And none of this is black and white. If not feeling well, you decide to work out, and start feeling worse, listen to your body, call it quits and go home.

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