Exercising to Fight the Plague

Two weeks after getting a terrible cold, I'm still working through it. If you're finding yourself sneezing, coughing, and sniffling, here's a list of the best exercises you can do when you're run down:

  • Walking: Getting your blood moving will help unplug your sinuses. Try just a 20-minute walk if you're feeling up to it. An added benefit is those who exercise regularly prevent secondary infections, like bronchitis, that can often attack when a cold spell has your immune system through the ringer.
  • Jogging: If you run regularly, feel free to keep it up (with a slightly scaled back intensity) when you have a cold. Just like walking, it's a natural decongestant. 
  • Tai Chi or Qi Gong: Any type of slow, low-intensity, mindful movement is going to help you feel better faster. Qi Gong, specifically, has been proven to have immune boosting abilities. Not familiar with Qi Gong? Here's a 15-minute video routine to get you started: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/videos-detail.asp?video=30
  • Yoga: Yup, breathing exercises and meditative, low-impact exercise can help reduce the amount of cortisol running through your system (created by your body stressing about being sick and fighting your infection). Try humming when appropriate during class, too--it'll open up your sinuses.
  • Dance: Dance or dance-fitness classes are a proven cold-fighter. Like Yoga, dancing reduces the amount of cortisol in your system. Dance has also been shown to boost cold-fighting antibodies, so feel free to shake it if you're hoping to heal quickly.

That said, not all exercise routines are great while you're feeling under the weather. Endurance running, machines at a gym, lifting weights, team sports, and anything out in the cold are likely to increase healing time. Muscle strain, exposure to other illnesses when you have a compromised immune system, and dry air irritating airways will all make you feel (and potentially get) worse.

Looking for more info on colds and exercise? Check out this article for more: http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/10/health/exercising-with-cold-flu/