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Should You Walk When You Are Sick?

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Updated May 16, 2014

Coughing and Sneezing

Coughing and Sneezing

Tetra Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Runny nose? Congestion? Coughing? Sneezing? Should you walk today?

Above-the-Neck Symptoms - Yes, Exercise
If your symptoms are all above the neck (runny nose, etc.), you are safe to walk at an easy to moderate pace.

Walk 10 minutes at an easy pace. If you feel OK, continue. If you don't -- stop and just do stretching and flexibility exercises. These can make you feel better in general.
Stretches for Walkers

Below-the-Neck Symptoms - Don't Exercise
If you have any symptoms below the neck such as a hacking cough, diarrhea, swollen lymph glands - don't exercise.

If You Have A Fever - No Exercise
If you have a fever, chills, body aches, or upset stomach, do not exercise.

Don't Share
Be a good sport - don't share your cold. Avoid groups of people. Don't sneeze on your walking partner.

Wash your hands often when you have a cold and must share your space with others. Use warm water and soap. Scrub your hands gently with the soap while singing the ABC Song to yourself - that is the right amount of time to suds. Then rinse. Turn off the faucet with a paper towel - faucet handles and door knobs are often the dirtiest part of a restroom. If you don't have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer. It's wise to carry a small bottle of sanitizer in your walking pack.

When to Get Back to Walking
After a bad cold, give yourself 3-4 days to get back up to full speed. Ease back into it with shorter walks at slow speed, and keep up your stretching and flexibility exercises. After a bout of the flu or other infections, give yourself at least a week to recover.

Related: Should You Walk When It Hurts?

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