Health: The Neck-Check Test for Working Out With a Cold

Pat Aitken for PE

It's a question you're probably asked a lot. “Coach, I'b godda cold.  Should I do today's workout?”  Here's your answer, “Depends what kind of cold. Do a neck check.”

Some colds leave their victims feeling like something the cat dragged in. They couldn't train if they tried. But if your sniffly students are keeners, here's a simple rule that will help them decide whether to train.

If their cold symptoms are above the neck—runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, sore throat—they can start their workout at half speed.  If they feel better after about 10 minutes, they can speed up and complete the workout normally. If they don't feel better, they can either pack it in, or continue at a slow rate.

However, if their symptoms are below the neck — fever, aching muscles, hacking cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea — tell your students to rest, not train.  They'll recover faster. And, they'll avoid dangerous side-effects such as heat stroke, dehydration or heart failure.

1. William Primos Jr., (MD) with James Wappes, “Patient Advisor: Exercising—or Not—When You Are Sick.” The Physician and Sportsmedicine, January 1996.
2. Pierre Rouzier, The Sports Medicine Patient Advisor, Third Edition, SportsMed Press, 2010.

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© 2011, Physical Education Update,

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