Exercising with a sore throat – advisable or not?

Woman with a sore throat

If you have symptoms of a cold, such as a sore throat, it is better to slow down when exercising. (Source: seb_ra/Getty Images)

When your throat hurts and you’re coming down with a cold, many people wonder whether they can exercise. What is important when training?Some people have probably already been in this situation. You actually want to exercise later , but suddenly you get this sore throat . Then many feel torn: Is it okay to exercise with a scratchy throat? Or would it be more advisable to give the body rest during an infection? Opinions differ even among experts when it comes to the question of whether it makes sense to train with a sore throat.

If you have complaints up your neck: training is possible

Some doctors are of the opinion that exercising with a sore throat is not a problem as long as it is only a mild cold and the symptoms only occur from the neck upwards. As a result, if you have a mild sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose or sneezing, physical exercise should be possible without risking health consequences.

However, things are different if, in addition to the sore throat, there are other symptoms that affect the rest of the body, such as:

  • Body aches
  • Tiredness, fatigue or exhaustion
  • Irritable cough (dry cough) or cough with sputum
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • high temperature
  • Gastrointestinal problems

If you have such complaints, you should always take a break from sports.

Listen carefully to your body

Anyone who exercises despite having mild cold symptoms should always do so carefully and not ignore body signals. As soon as signs of discomfort appear or the condition worsens, it is more advisable to stop and stop for a few days. This also applies if your pulse becomes unusually high after a short time during training or your heart starts racing.

A few days without exercise will not affect your usual performance in the long term. If those affected feel healthy again after recovering from the infection, they can slowly resume training after a few symptom-free days.

Adapt training for a sore throat

If you have a slight sore throat and still want to exercise, you should not put full strain on your body, but rather reduce the duration and intensity of your training. After all, the body is currently fighting an infection. Otherwise, there is a risk of making the condition worse through exertion. However, according to some experts, light to moderate exercise may be OK as long as you feel well enough.

This means, for example, that it is better to just jog a short lap at a leisurely pace, or instead of jogging, just walk or go for a walk, or do just one set instead of three sets when doing strength training. It is also important to drink enough during training.

Risk of infection to others

Anyone who wants to do sports despite an infection must also be aware that there is a potential risk of infection for others. It is therefore more considerate than going to the gym or swimming pool with a mild sore throat or other cold symptoms to train alone for a few days.

Protect your heart: If in doubt, avoid exercise

However, if it is not just a mild cold, but rather a severe flu-like infection or even the flu , you should definitely take a break from training.

Otherwise, those affected risk pathogens such as viruses or bacteria spreading to the heart and inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) developing. This is tricky because it is often barely noticeable through symptoms and is not easy to detect. In the worst case, however, it can take a life-threatening course. That’s why it’s important, even after an infection, to resume training slowly and not to put excessive strain on the body.

In order to reduce the risk of myocarditis, some doctors advise against exercise even if there are any signs of an infection. It doesn’t matter whether it’s “just” cold symptoms (such as a slight sore throat, runny nose , cough) or something worse.

Therefore, to be on the safe side and prevent myocarditis, it is best for those affected not to exercise at all during and for a few days after an infection (whether a cold, flu or gastrointestinal infection), but rather to allow their bodies to rest.


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