Joanna Hall answers your fitness questions

Can I go to the gym when I have a cold?
Many people believe the old wives’ tale about sweating out a cold, but depending on the severity of your cold, exercising could be just about the worst thing you can do.

There is a sports medicine trick called the neck check, which is a simple way of deciding whether you should put on your training kit. If you have symptoms above the neck such as a thick head, or a runny or blocked nose, and have no symptoms below the neck, then you can take light exercise if you feel like doing so.

You should, however, start at a lower intensity than normal, then monitor how you feel after 10 minutes. If you feel OK, continue, but I would still advise you take things more gently than usual. If you are a runner, say, cut back your speed by 5%-10% and reduce your running time. Or just do some gentle stretches and some light cardio. This is not the time to make progress if following a training schedule.

If you have symptoms below the neck, such as achy joints and muscles, or feel hot, cold and shivery, your symptoms are indicative of a viral infection, in which case you should not exercise. Viral infections can attack the cardiac heart tissue, and while this may not pose a problem in the short term, long-term it is not wise to damage just about the most important organ in your body.

Prevention is also better than cure, and nutritionally some foods can help ward off a cold: fresh chilli dishes and ginger added to daily fresh juices can help keep a mild cold in its early stages at bay. If you are a regular exerciser, pay attention to your change in body temperature as you start and finish workouts. It is often the sudden drop in temperature post-exercise that can trigger vulnerability to a cold. So wrap up and aim to keep your core body temperature as consistent as possible.

· Joanna Hall is a fitness expert ( Send your exercise questions to: Weekend, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER ([email protected]).

Source: Read Full Article