Regular and moderate exercise can provide a boost to the immune system which helps reduce the frequency of colds and infections. If an individual exercises with a stuffy nose, it is not likely to worsen the condition and might even make him/her feel better since it helps relieve the nasal congestion. On the other hand, if the stuffy nose is accompanied by other symptoms, it is best to take a break from exercise.
The individual should follow through with his/her exercise routine if the cold-like symptoms are above the neck such as stuffy or runny nose, throat irritation or sneezing unless the symptoms are accompanied by fever. It is vital to keep the exercise at a mild to moderate level while avoiding any of the high-intensity routines until the symptoms have subsided. In case the individual also experiences nausea, chest congestion, croup-like cough or flu-like symptoms, he/she must avoid engaging in his/her exercise routine temporarily until properly diagnosed by a doctor.
Precautions to bear in mind
If the individual is currently using a decongestant for the stuffy nose, this can affect the heart rate during exercise. Decongestants include oral medications and nasal sprays can cause an increase in the heart rate and the blood pressure.
The pulse rate should be monitored during exercise to ensure that it stays within 50-75% of the maximum heart rate. You can calculate the heart maximum heart rate by subtracting the age in years from 220. A doctor should be consulting before using a decongestant if the individual has heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, glaucoma or urinary issues. If the doctor allows the use of decongestants, the individual should ask if exercising is allowed while the medication is currently taken.
What are the options?
If the individual was used to running or working out at high intensity, it is recommended to switch to a milder form of exercise such as walking, bicycling or yoga at a moderate pace. A pace that raises the heart rate but still allows the individual to carry out a conversation is recommended. In addition, the individual can increase the duration of the workout to make up for the change in the intensity.
Considerations to bear in mind
The individual should be the one to estimate his/her potential when exercising with a stuffy nose. In case exercising worsens the symptoms, it is best to take a few days off from exercise and allow the body to fully recover.
Try to boost the immunity level in the future by eating a well-balanced diet, losing weight gradually if overweight, maintaining a healthy weight, getting adequate sleep as well as starting an exercise routine suitable to the fitness level.
Any condition that causes a stuffy nose along with other symptoms should be properly assessed by a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.