Who me? Nah, I don't have a cold.
I take pride in having a powerful, take-no-prisoners immune system. Sure, I used to get colds, back when I was younger, but now I don't. Colds are for lesser mortals, who don't have such a kick-ass disease-fighting abilities.
Why yes, I did just blow my nose, but I have allergies. Probably due to the cat I'm not willing to give up, or possibly to the dust I'm too lazy to clean up. (And for anyone curious about the neti pot experiment--nope, it didn't help with the runny nose, and in fact even seemed to make it worse. Think there's much of a market for used neti pots?)
But anyway, a runny nose is normal for me and does not mean I have a cold.
Oh, these cranberry-flavored, Vitamin C-enhanced Ricola lozenges? Well, they're just very tasty, that's all. That's why I've been sucking on them for the last few days.
If I did have a cold, which I do not, I now have some more information about whether I could go to they gym today and work out. The New York Times just ran a helpful article about when you can exercise with a cold and when you should sit it out. Even though I won't need this information personally, I'll be happy to share it with you.
Most of The Time, You CAN Exercise With a Cold
According to some older studies they dug up in the NY Times article, exercising with a cold does not seem to be a big deal.
In one study, researchers infected 45 young adult subjects with a head cold and made them exercise. They concluded: "Having a cold had no effect on either lung function or exercise capacity."
Well, that's great! But unless you're a serious athlete, isn't the real question whether the exercising makes your cold worse? Not whether having a cold makes your exercise performance worse?
Turns out they looked at that too. Researchers started with 34 subjects, gave them all colds, and had half of them just rest. The other half had to run on treadmills. Then every 12 hours, they asked subjects a bunch of (probably annoying) questions about their symptoms and physical activity.
And get this: "The researchers collected the subjects’ used facial tissues, weighing them to assess their cold symptoms." (Career counseling note to self: academic research may sound prestigious and all, but... collecting and weighing other people's snotty Kleenex??)
The bottom line: There was no difference in symptoms between the group that exercised and the one that rested, or in the time it took to recover from the colds. But the exercisers were more likely to say they felt better.
So for those of you who want to go for it even though you have a cold? This is indeed good news! Those of you who were hoping to get let off the hook, read on.
When to Sit it Out
However, the article stressed that these experimental colds were only head colds. They said to use more caution if running a fever or experiencing chest congestion.
And heck, just use common sense--you probably know if you feel way too crappy to work out, no matter where your symptoms may be located.
Back in the olden days, when I used to get colds, I'd mostly still exercise. I always felt like I deserved triple credit though, just on principle.
Back to the Cold I Do Not Have
So why do I take such smug pride in my resistance to the common cold? Well, I wasn't born with a particularly robust immune system, and in fact, I used to catch pretty much any bug that was going around. But over the past decade or so, I've been getting better about eating all the right stuff--plenty of fruits and veggies and garlic and green tea and fish oil pills and whatever the heck the experts are recommending this week. I get lots of sleep and exercise. So I feel like my not catching colds is a hard-earned badge of my (mostly) healthy habits. (I even dodged the stomach flu last week when the poor Lobster got hit, and I ALWAYS used to be the first one to get stomach flu.)
Still, it's curious. What's the deal with the sore throat I had a couple days ago? And the coughing and congestion at night? Oh, and my voice: it's hard not to notice that it's been steadily descending in pitch. First it just went down to a kinda-sexy Suzanne Pleshette, then further down to Lauren Bacall, past even Bea Arthur, and now it's settled in the James Earl Jones range.
Could it be?
Nah, not me. I don't get colds anymore.
How about you folks, do you have awesome immune systems or do you catch whatever comes around? Do you exercise when you have a cold?