Regular, moderate-intensity exercise can boost your immune system, reducing your frequency of colds and infections. Exercising with a stuffy nose is not likely to make your condition worse and may even make you feel better by relieving nasal congestion. However, if your stuffy nose is accompanied by certain other symptoms, you may need to take a break.
Follow through with your exercise plans if cold-like symptoms are above the neck, such as a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing or throat irritation, unless the symptoms are accompanied by a fever. Keep your exercise at a mild to moderate level, holding off on high-intensity exercise until your symptoms have subsided. If you also have chest congestion, nausea, a croupy cough or flu-like symptoms, it's best to abandon your exercise regimen temporarily.
- Follow through with your exercise plans if cold-like symptoms are above the neck, such as a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing or throat irritation, unless the symptoms are accompanied by a fever.
- If you also have chest congestion, nausea, a croupy cough or flu-like symptoms, it's best to abandon your exercise regimen temporarily.
The Toxicity of Plug-In Air Fresheners
If you're taking a decongestant for your stuffy nose, this can affect your heart rate during exercise. Decongestants, including nose sprays and oral medications, can increase your heart rate and your blood pressure. Monitor your pulse during exercise to make sure you stay within 50 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate; calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age in years from 220. Check with your doctor before taking a decongestant if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma, thyroid disease or problems urinating. If you get the go ahead to take the decongestant, ask your doctor if it's okay to exercise while taking the medication.
- If you're taking a decongestant for your stuffy nose, this can affect your heart rate during exercise.
If you're used to running or generally working out at high intensity, you may want to switch to a milder exercise such as walking, yoga or bicycling at a moderate speed. Keep a pace that raises your heart rate but allows you to carry on a conversation. You can add to the duration of your workout to make up for the change in intensity.
Sinus Infection & Exercise ?
Ultimately, you need to go by how you feel when it comes to exercising with a stuffy nose. If working out worsens your symptoms, take a few days off and give your body time to recover. Boost your immunity in the future by eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, losing weight gradually if you're overweight, getting enough sleep and implementing an exercise program appropriate to your fitness level, suggests the American Council on Exercise 1.
The Toxicity of Plug-In Air Fresheners
Sinus Infection & Exercise ?
What Causes Burning in the Chest When Walking on the Treadmill?
Cardio Exercises & Sinus Pressure
Workout Routine if You Have High Blood Pressure
How to Get Rid of a Sinus Infection Without Antibiotics
Bladder Infections After Exercise or Walking
Can I Exercise With Whooping Cough?
What to Take for Extreme Congestion While Pregnant
How to Accelerate Weight Loss on the HCG Diet
- American Council on Exercise: Can Exercise Reduce Your Risk of Catching a Cold?
- American Heart Association: Target Heart Rates
- Summit Medical Group: Decongestants and Antihistamines
- CNN Health: How Can I Exercise Safely in Winter When I Have a Cold?
- Naclerio RM, Bachert C, Baraniuk JN. Pathophysiology of nasal congestion. Int J Gen Med. 2010;3:47–57. Published 2010 Apr 8. doi:10.2147/ijgm.s8088
- Benninger M. Diagnosis and management of nasal congestion: the role of intranasal corticosteroids. Postgrad Med. 2009;121(1):122-31. doi:10.3810/pgm.2009.01.1961
- Use Caution When Giving Cough and Cold Products to Kids. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 02/08/2018
- Medline Plus. Nasal Congestion.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. Nasal Congestion - Overview.
- Jiannine LM. An investigation of the relationship between physical fitness, self-concept, and sexual functioning. J Educ Health Promot. 2018;7:57. doi:10.4103/jehp.jehp_157_17
- Swift DL, Johannsen NM, Lavie CJ, Earnest CP, Church TS. The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Weight Loss and Maintenance. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2014;56(4):441-447. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2013.09.012
- Abdelaal M, le Roux CW, Docherty NG. Morbidity and mortality associated with obesity. Ann Transl Med. 2017;5(7):161. doi:10.21037/atm.2017.03.107
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Disease Facts. Updated September 8, 2020.
- American Heart Association. Warm Weather Fitness Guide: Your Path to Heart Health. 2012.
- American Heart Association. Lifestyle Changes for Heart Attack Prevention. Updated July 31, 2015.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Type 2 Diabetes. Updated May 2017.
- Babraj JA, Vollaard NB, Keast C, Guppy FM, Cottrell G, Timmons JA. Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males. BMC Endocr Disord. 2009;9:3. doi:10.1186/1472-6823-9-3
- Strasser B, Pesta D. Resistance Training for Diabetes Prevention and Therapy: Experimental Findings and Molecular Mechanisms. Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:805217. doi:10.1155/2013/805217
- Frappier J, Toupin I, Levy JJ, Aubertin-Leheudre M, Karelis AD. Energy Expenditure during Sexual Activity in Young Healthy Couples. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(10):e79342. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079342
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Disease and Stroke. Updated October 7, 2020.
- Wen H, Wang L. Reducing effect of aerobic exercise on blood pressure of essential hypertensive patients: A meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2017;96(11):e6150. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000006150
- American Heart Association. American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. Updated April 18, 2018.
- Geda YE, Roberts RO, Knopman DS, et al. Physical Exercise, Aging, and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Study. Arch Neurol. 2010;67(1):80-86. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2009.297
- Northey JM, Cherbuin N, Pumpa KL, et al. Exercise interventions for cognitive function in adults older than 50: a systematic review with meta-analysis. B J Sports Med. 2018;52:154-160. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096587
- Larson EB, Wang L, Bowen JD, et al. Exercise Is Associated with Reduced Risk for Incident Dementia among Persons 65 Years of Age and Older. Ann Intern Med. 2006;144(2):73-81. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-144-2-200601170-00004
- Sjøgaard G, Christensen JR, Justesen JB, et al. Exercise is more than medicine: The working age population’s well-being and productivity. J Sport Health Sci. 2016;5(2):159-165. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2016.04.004
- Puetz TW, Flowers SS, O'Connor PJ. A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effect of Aerobic Exercise Training on Feelings of Energy and Fatigue in Sedentary Young Adults with Persistent Fatigue. Psychother Psychosom. 2008;77(3):167-174. doi:10.1159/000116610
- Durstine JL, Grandjean PW, Davis PG, Ferguson MA, Alderson NL, Dubose KD. Blood Lipid and Lipoprotein Adaptations to Exercise: A Quantitative Analysis. Sports Med. 2001;31(15):1033-1062. doi:10.2165/00007256-200131150-00002
- Mann S, Beedie C, Jimenez A. Differential Effects of Aerobic Exercise, Resistance Training and Combined Exercise Modalities on Cholesterol and the Lipid Profile: Review, Synthesis and Recommendations. Sports Med. 2014;44(2):211-221. doi:10.1007/s40279-013-0110-5
- Weir K. The exercise effect. American Psychological Association. 2011;42(11):48.
- Belvederi Murri M, Ekkekakis P, Magagnoli M, et al. Physical Exercise in Major Depression: Reducing the Mortality Gap While Improving Clinical Outcomes. Front Psychiatry. 2018;9:762. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00762
- Childs E, De Wit H. Regular exercise is associated with emotional resilience to acute stress in healthy adults. Front Physiol. 2014;5:161. doi:10.3389/fphys.2014.00161
- Herring MP, O'connor PJ, Dishman RK. The Effect of Exercise Training on Anxiety Symptoms Among Patients: A Systematic Review. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(4):321-331. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.530
- Harvard Health Publishing. Exercise and the Risk of Stroke, Heart Disease—The Family HealthGuide. Exercise and the Risk of Stroke, Heart Disease. 2005.
- Saunders DH, Sanderson M, Hayes S, et al. Physical fitness training for stroke patients. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;3:CD003316. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003316.pub6
- American Cancer Society. Exercise Linked With Lower Risk of 13 Types of Cancer. 2016.
- Lee IM. Physical Activity and Cancer Prevention--Data from Epidemiologic Studies. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003;35(11):1823-1827. doi:10.1249/01.MSS.0000093620.27893.23
- Khan N, Afaq F, Mukhtar H. Lifestyle as risk factor for cancer: Evidence from human studies. Cancer Lett. 2010;293(2):133-143. doi:10.1016/j.canlet.2009.12.013
- Rodríguez-Gómez I, Mañas A, Losa-Reyna J, et al. Associations between sedentary time, physical activity and bone health among older people using compositional data analysis. PLoS One. 2018;13(10):e0206013. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0206013
- Troy KL, Mancuso ME, Butler TA, Johnson JE. Exercise Early and Often: Effects of Physical Activity and Exercise on Women's Bone Health. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(5):878. doi:10.3390/ijerph15050878
- National Osteoporosis Foundation. Osteoporosis Exercise for Strong Bones.
- Elavsky S. Longitudinal Examination of the Exercise and Self-Esteem Model in Middle-Aged Women. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2010;32(6):862-880.
- Campbell A, Hausenblas HA. Effects of Exercise Interventions on Body Image: A Meta-Analysis. J Health Psychol. 2009;14(6):780-793. doi:10.1177/1359105309338977
- Basso JC, Suzuki WA. The Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood, Cognition, Neurophysiology, and Neurochemical Pathways: A Review. Brain Plast. 2017;2(2):127-152. doi:10.3233/BPL-160040
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hip Fractures Among Older Adults. Updated September 20, 2016.
- Sherrington C, Tiedemann A, Fairhall N, Close JCT, Lord SR. Exercise to prevent falls in older adults: an updated meta-analysis and best practice recommendations. N S W Public Health Bull. 2011;22(3-4):78-83. doi:10.1071/NB10056
- Harvard Health Publishing. It's never too late to start exercising! 2016.
- Williams KA, Petronis J, Smith D, et al. Effect of Iyengar yoga therapy for chronic low back pain. Pain. 2005;115(1-2):107-117. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2005.02.016
- Janssen I, Leblanc AG. Systematic review of the health benefits of physical activity and fitness in school-aged children and youth. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2010;7:40. doi:10.1186/1479-5868-7-40
Pam Murphy is a writer specializing in fitness, childcare and business-related topics. She is a member of the National Association for Family Child Care and contributes to various websites. Murphy is a licensed childcare professional and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Georgia.