Answered by Mary Valle on Monday, June 1, 2009
When your inner exercise junkie is trying to drag the under-the-weather half of you to the gym, "use common sense," says Tim White, Ph.D., dean of Health and Human Performance at Oregon State University. "If you're on the verge of being quite ill, doing intense exercise is not a good idea. But if you plan on doing minimal exercise, and you're coming down with a minor cold, that's probably okay." Although exercise helps build immunity in the long term, it places stress on your already-taxed immune system as you work out, explains Dr. White, making your body potentially less successful in fighting off a respiratory infection. So far, government-funded research into the effects of exercise on colds conducted at Ball State University has found that moderately active subjects with the common cold experienced no change in symptoms, severity and duration of illness after they engaged in a 30-minute exercise session. "Try doing less than usual," recommends Dr. White, "Instead of taking a 60-minute run, do a 20-minute walk." And if you work out at a gym, adds Neil Chapman, head trainer at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA, be sure to protect yourself and others by wiping off machines and equipment with cleaning solution.