You have developed a healthy exercise program and are determined to stick to it – until you catch a cold. Most common colds are not bad enough to keep you from moderate exercise, but exercising with chest overload is different.
Chest tightness can be the only reason you can excuse yourself from exercising without guilt.
Exercise with a chest infection
When a common cold moves to the chest, it is called acute bronchitis due to inflammation. When the tubes swell, they produce mucus that can cause coughing, chest soreness, and shortness of breath.
Bronchitis is also often accompanied by fatigue, headaches, mild body aches, watery eyes, sore throat, and low-grade fever below 102 F.
Exercise with a cold
Bronchitis can sometimes develop into more severe lung problems, such as pneumonia, and if you smoke, emphysema, right-sided heart failure, or pulmonary hypertension. If you have repeated bronchitis episodes, it can also signal an underlying asthma condition or other lung diseases.
Exercising with a cold is not a good idea. When you exercise, your lungs are asked to increase their oxygen intake to provide energy to the body’s cells, putting additional stress on the already inflamed lung tissue and potentially aggravating symptoms of a cold in the chest.
What the experts say
Regular exercise with moderate intensity is associated with a reduced risk of infection. However, high-intensity exercise has a temporary opposite effect, making you more prone to infections.
If symptoms are above the neck, it is okay to exercise, but postpone the exercise if the symptoms are below your neck.
Exercise to get rid of mucus can benefit people with bronchiectasis – physical injury and chronic bronchi inflammation. Participating in moderate-intensity activities, such as walking or swimming, can loosen mucus secretions and make the cough more productive.
Visit a doctor
In most cases, bronchitis goes away on its own. If the temperature rises above 100.4 F, you should consult a healthcare professional. The same goes for a cough that produces thick or bloody mucus, has trouble breathing, symptoms last more than three weeks, or has a chronic heart or lung problem.
Less frequently, severe medical conditions can cause chest congestion. Diseases such as cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are associated with excess mucus production in the airways. Specific types of exercise are beneficial for these conditions but should only be performed under the guidance of a physician, respiratory therapist, or physiotherapist.