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I have a cold. A clogged head, congested sinuses and a sore throat, accompanied by a cough. It's been around for about a week.

I've stayed off the bike because I haven't really felt well enough to head out in the cold weather we've had this past week.

However, I feel like I'm starting to recover, and I'm itching to get back on the bike.

My question: At what stage do you get back on the bike? Does riding slow the recovery process (I've heard that the immune system can be suppressed by exercise)? Should I have just kept riding right through?

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I've found that riding or other exercise is actually helpful in clearing a stuffy head or slight cough. Heavy breathing from vigorous exercise, though, can at the very least make a sore throat more unpleasant. – Daniel R Hicks May 14 '12 at 11:56
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I've generally found that moderate exercise helps recover from a cold (once you've established a bit of distance from death's door), but overdoing it can set you back.

You need to be doubly sure to maintain hydration, and cut back your workout in both intensity and duration. Ie, take it easy.

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Agreed. Comfort and disire to ride are the best "thermometers", since you most probably want very much to ride, but not to ride too much, or to ride suffering. I have never had problems by riding just out of a cold, but always when I was already recovering, and most times taking it easy. – heltonbiker May 14 '12 at 1:32
It should be obvious, but it's also worth noting that you should not ride in seriously cold or rainy weather if you have a cold. Again, take it easy. – Daniel R Hicks May 14 '12 at 11:52

The rule of thumb I heard, and that I've always used, is that I can ride (run, play soccer, whatever) if the problem is just in my head (nose, sinus, throat) but as soon as it migrates south into my chest I quit until the chest is clear.

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Yes, this is the best rule for exercise while sick/feeling poorly. – jilles de wit May 26 '14 at 11:01

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