The Key to Exercising with Cold & Flu

The key to exercising with cold & flu

Influenza (flu) and the common cold are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. The flu is caused by influenza viruses only, whereas the common cold can be caused by a number of different viruses. Symptoms may be similar for both; however, the flu is typically worse than a cold, with symptoms being more intense and coming on more abruptly. The flu can also result in serious health problems such as pneumonia and bacterial infections, unlike a cold.

How can I fight cold & flu?

Viruses are best treated at home whilst allowing your immune system to fight the virus.

  • Rest – ensure you get plenty of sleep and rest. Stay home from work/study/sport to allow your body to recover, and to prevent the spread of cold & flu.
  • Take simple pain relief – speak to your pharmacist or GP about pain relief that can help with headaches, muscle aches, pains and fevers.
  • Stay hydrated! – it’s important to replace the fluid you’ve lost due to fevers/sweating, and help keep your throat moist
  • Vitamins – despite the most common forms of vitamins being found in food, our bodies may not be getting enough! When we have a cold or flu, getting enough vitamins (such as vitamin C, zinc and vitamin E) may help to reduce congestion. It is also important to ensure you eat lots of greens and foods with vitamin C to help to boost the body’s immune system to help fight off a cold.

When can I exercise after having cold & flu?

In regards to returning to exercise after having a cold or the flu, or continuing to exercise during your sickness, every individual is different and everyone will recover over a different time period. You don’t want to elongate your cold or flu by exhausting yourself, but you also don’t want to let your cold stop you from reaching your goals! We posted a blog on returning to sport after covid, that

A general rule of thumb is that if your symptoms are from the neck up (sore throat, runny nose) then it’s ok to exercise lightly, just make sure not to elevate your heart rate or body temperature too much. If symptoms are below the neck (cough, tight chest, upset stomach) then the body needs more rest. Exercising in this case could prolong your illness and compromise your immune system, as your body is focusing on energy production and muscle function instead of fighting the illness.

If there is no worsening of symptoms, light exercise can be done and you can slowly return to regular activities over a number of days, ensuring to monitor your symptoms. If new symptoms develop – such as breathing problems – or initial symptoms become worse, it’s best to stop exercising and consult with your doctor.

If you want support with your return to exercise, please get in touch with our Exercise Physiologist to guide your safe return.


Flu Vaccination!

Free flu vaccinations have been made available to all NSW residents over the age of 6 months to boost immunity for this winter season. From 1 – 30 June 2022, free flu shots are available through your local GP for everyone aged 6 months and over, and through pharmacies for everyone aged 5 years and over. Please consult your GP or pharmacist with any questions relating to the flu vaccination.