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Q.

Should I continue exercise if I have a cold or bronchitis?

I developed sinus pressure and chest congestion. I continued my running. When my symptoms didn't improve after 3 weeks, I went to a doctor who gave me a steroid and an antibiotic, but said it was okay to keep running. I recovered mostly, though I still felt the symptoms a little. Last night, I developed a dry cough which feels again to be in my chest, and I have a little sinus pressure again. My exercise helps me mentally, but is it the cause of my prolonged problem?

Related Topics: Chest, Sinus, Exercise, Running, Antibiotic
 

Answers From Experts & Organizations (1)

Fitness
Health Coach, WebMD
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A.

Deciding to exercise while you’re sick can depend a lot on your illness and your symptoms. To be honest, the answer to your question often depends on who you’re asking, since there really doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus or agreement. I personally feel more often than not that it’s best to take time to rest and recover from your illness before continuing with exercise. My rationale comes from a physiological standpoint.

Basically, exercise can put a lot of stress on your body, and your immune system is the only way that your body fights infections and pathogens that make you sick. When you exercise, you’re devoting some of your body’s resources towards recovery from exercise instead of recovery from illness. In some instances, exercise may even make you sicker or even prolong your illness.

You also have to consider how comfortable you would feel while exercising with some of your various symptoms. Medication may help alleviate some symptoms, but otherwise how would you feel trying to go for a run if you’re congested or have a persistent cough?

If you choose to exercise while sick, you should consider decreasing your exercise intensity, frequency, or duration until you fully recover. Please be considerate by following proper gym etiquette if you choose to work out in a gym.

Check out this WebMD article for more input and guidance:
http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/exercising-when-sick.

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A.
I have the same symptoms.  I feel its closer to the bronchitis side of things because of the clear mucus I cough when I am not riding.  I am able to comfortably take my heart rate over 160, but I still have a cough which lasts for weeks after an upper respiratory tract infection (generally also involving the sinuses.  I also get the odd drainage from my sinuses after/during a hot shower, for example, which seems to clear them.


My explanation is as follows:
When I am riding outdoors in the Summer I breath a lot of pollens, (I am not in the city), a little exhaust and this will tend to exacerbate an existing irritation.  Corticosteroids have limited effect to reduce the irritation, but can reduce an acute irritation to the point where it is no longer chronic, and my body's defenses can make a difference.

Thus its a combination of factors which typically plays out in the following order
1. Bad cold/URT infection (5 days)
2. Chronic cough (1 week to 8 weeks) But lungs good enough to exercise.
3. Clear 2-8 months

Managing the level 2 is what this is all about.  On occasions where I have been at the coast, swimming in the sea often clears things up much faster.  (Which supports the sinus/allergen/irritant theory).

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