Is It Ok To Exercise With a Cough?
Can you exercise with a cough? The severity of your cough will determine if you can or should exercise.
For instance, if a tickle in your throat is the reason for your cough, you don’t have to skip your workout. But, always listen to your body and lower the intensity if you’re feeling under the weather.
However, frequent or productive coughing can indicate a respiratory infection, and you should rest until you’re better.
When you exercise, your lungs expand, and you breathe deeply to increase your oxygen intake. But, your lungs can’t do this if you have a wet or productive cough. As a result, exercise can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, or fluid build-up in your lungs.
Coughing is also one of the ways illnesses spread. So you may risk infecting others at the gym if you exercise with a cough.
In short, coughing is your body’s way of telling you something’s wrong. So play it safe, skip the gym for a few days to give your body time to heal.
RELATED: Why Do We Cough?
Is Working Out While Sick Good or Bad?
In general, if you’re up for some physical activity and your symptoms are above your neck, then light exercise is good. Above the neck symptoms include:
- A mild sore throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Mild cold
In some cases, exercise may help with recovery. For example, a light workout may reduce congestion and sinus pressure.
Remember to stay well hydrated and stick to low-intensity exercise. If your symptoms worsen, hang up your sneakers and allow your body to heal before hitting the gym.
On the other hand, exercise can sometimes do more harm than good when you’re ill. It might even be dangerous to work out. Take time off from the gym if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Wet or productive cough
- Flu symptoms
- Muscle aches
- Vomiting or diarrhea
An underlying condition, such as asthma, may get worse if you work out while sick. So, carefully consider your symptoms before going to the gym.
Also, be considerate of others and preferably stay home if you have a contagious illness, like the flu. You can always go for a walk outside if you want to be active.
RELATED: What Does A Cough Look Like?
How Should I Exercise With a Cough?
Talk to your doctor before exercising, especially if your cough persists for more than two weeks. Your doctor will advise you if you’re ready to get back to your work out routine or if you should wait a bit longer.
Besides, use your best judgment when exercising with a cough. For instance, if exercise makes your cough worse or gives you chest pain, you may need more time to recover.
Choose low-impact exercises if you want to work out. That way, you can stay active without putting too much stress on your system.
Use the elliptical or stationary bike at the gym rather than doing intense cardio. You can also go for a walk instead of a run.
Alternatively, yoga or pilates can improve your flexibility and help you relax. It also focuses on the mind-body connection, which can enhance your overall health.
For your safety, as well as others, wipe down the equipment with antibacterial wipes before and after use.
Exercise with caution and stay hydrated. Most importantly, don’t push yourself too hard. It may take a while to recover from an illness, and too much exercise too soon can delay the process.
Why Do I Cough After Exercise?
There are a few reasons why you might cough after exercise.
Firstly, the air, whether outside or at the gym, might be polluted. As you exercise, you breathe in small particles that irritate the lungs, causing them to produce mucus as protection.
Additionally, we tend to breathe through our mouths when we exercise instead of our noses. Consequently, we breathe unfiltered air.
Your nose not only filters air but also humidifies and warms it before it reaches your lungs. For this reason, you may find your post-workout cough is worse on cold days.
Coughing during or after a workout session may also be a symptom of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). With this condition, airways narrow temporarily in response to physical activity.
It may affect as much as 15% of the population. Whether your cough is severe or annoying, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
EIB symptoms are generally non-specific. In other words, symptoms are similar to other conditions and may include:
- Tightness in your chest
- Shortness of breath
- Reduced endurance
- Abdominal discomfort
Most cases are mild, but some may require a visit to the emergency room.
Your doctor can help you manage EIB with some tweaks before a workout or write you a prescription that may help.
To conclude, exercise is a great way to strengthen your immune system. While it’s usually safe to exercise with a mild cold, a cough may be a sign to take it easy. Finally, if you’re determined to stick with your exercise regime, speak to your doctor and get the all-clear first.
Have any more questions about exercise and coughing? Ask us in the comment section!