Chances are someone has told you that you can reduce the length of a cold by “sweating it out,” but how accurate is this advice? Is it actually possible to sweat out a cold? And is it safe?
According to family medicine physician David Cutler, M.D., the short answer is no. No matter how much you run, jump, and perspire, a typical cold will last anywhere from seven to 10 days. The fact of the matter is your body’s natural way of “sweating out a cold” actually occurs when you develop a fever. When your body temperature rises, the virus is killed off.
“Your body’s immune system will recognize the cold virus as foreign and launch an immune attack,” says Cutler. Mild fever, production of mucus, and fatigue are all signs that your immune system is actually working.
That brings us to our next question: Is it good (or safe) to work out when you have a cold? After all, you might not want to surrender your workout routine just because you have a cold. According to Cutler, mild exercise such as walking or yoga is OK if you are experiencing mild symptoms of a cold.
With that said, you can actually make your cold worse by working out rigorously. Cutler says that strenuous exercise “can cause you to sweat more, become more dehydrated, and expend energy on exercise instead of on fighting off the illness.”
As for hitting the gym, forget about it. Not only do you want to avoid spreading germs, but you should also do your best to stay home and rest if you’re feeling sick.
So, if sweating it out doesn’t quell the symptoms of a cold, what can you do to feel better, quicker?
According to Austin-based holistic doctor Elena Villanueva, D.C., the best thing you can do is reach for foods and supplements that support your immune system. This includes chicken soup, vitamin C, cinnamon, oregano, honey, and ginger. Lastly, it’s vital you stay hydrated and get adequate rest if you have a cold.