Can I Run When I Have A Cold?

Running or doing regular exercise with a mild cold is usually safe, particularly if the symptoms are above your neck. In fact, exercise may even help you feel better by temporarily increasing carbon dioxide levels in the blood.

On the other hand, if you’re experiencing more severe symptoms of cold, like chest tightness, fever, or cough, it’s best to avoid running, according to Healthline. 

Colds are the result of the immune system being activated to help fight the infection and prevent reinfection in the future. In other words, when you have a cold, your body is using energy by supporting your immune system to fight off the cold depending on the severity and type of infection you’re trying to stave off. 

Do A ‘Neck Check’

The basic rule among runners is the ‘neck check.’ The above-the-neck or below-the-neck rule is a tried and tested rule that you can use to assess the severity of your symptoms and help you decide whether to run or stay home.

According to this rule, it is safe to run if your symptoms are manageable and ‘above-the-neck,’  but if you’re going through ‘below-the-neck’ symptoms,’ running or any training exercises may do more harm than good.

Symptoms for above-the-neck

  • Sneezing 
  • Headache
  • Sore Throat
  • Watery Eyes
  • Stuffy or Runny Nose

Symptoms for below-the-neck

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Body Aches
  • Intense Cough
  • Upset Stomach
  • Chest Congestion

Running with a below-the-neck cold is not dangerous, but will also increase the time it’ll take you to get back to normal. Always keep in mind that missing a day or two of running will not sidetrack your progress.

Resume your normal training routine gradually as you start to feel better. As your condition starts to improve, avoid going all out on the first few runs and make sure to start at no more than 70 percent of your normal intensity.

Tips For Cold Recovery

As a runner, you are more in tune with your body so you can easily notice symptoms and be able to take action in order to reduce the severity or length of your cold.

While it can be easy to shrug off pains and body aches, remember that it is important to be honest about your symptoms. Pushing yourself too hard can increase the risk of serious complications, which requires even more time off.

If, despite your best efforts to recover, you’re still sick, here are a few tips to help you with your recovery. 

  • Rest your body
  • Hot drinks and teas
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Take throat lozenges
  • Take vitamins regularly
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Eat your fruits and veggies


However, if any cold or flu symptoms continue to persist after weeks of resting, it may be best to check in with your doctor and receive proper medication to help with your speedy recovery. Furthermore, if you have asthma and a cold, make sure to talk with your physician before you exercise as it may cause you to cough more and make you short of breath.