Cycling Tips: Should You Ride A Bike When You Have A Cold?

The seasons have changed recently, and there seem to be more people around with colds. Can I ride a bike if I'm sick? Will moderate exercise aggravate the condition or alleviate it?
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It can be tempting to continue riding when you may have a minor illness, but knowing when to stop and when you can continue riding is crucial. What symptoms and illnesses are you aware of not enough to stop you from riding? Or does it make you so weak that cycling makes it worse instead of adding to your training? Let’s explore these situations below:

Pay attention to your symptoms

Cycling tips 1 when you have a cold

Before answering these questions, it’s important to distinguish between cold and flu, terms that are often used interchangeably to describe the same illness or set of symptoms. Colds are caused by a variety of viruses, and influenza is caused by influenza viruses. They are both respiratory illnesses, caused by different viruses. There are different symptoms and severity. ” said Adrian Rotunno, medical director of the UAE team that provides medical services to Pogačar. Rotunno is very good at dealing with riders who are at risk of infection. Strenuous exercise can cause lymphocyte counts (attacks). A subtype of foreign body white blood cells) decreases, making riders more susceptible to illness.

A cold is usually a mild illness with symptoms including a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, and cough. The flu is more serious, with symptoms including fever, chills, body aches and fatigue. The flu can also cause more serious complications such as myocarditis (inflammation/damage of the heart muscle) or pneumonia, especially in older adults or people with underlying health conditions.

Know when to take a break

Cycling tips 2 when you have a cold

If you are experiencing systemic symptoms such as fever, body or muscle aches, elevated resting heart rate, and fatigue, it may be best to avoid training altogether and wait to recover. This generally requires 5 to 7 days of complete rest, followed by a gradual return to lower intensity and longer riding over the next 10 to 14 days. Of course this is just a suggestion and if symptoms persist or new symptoms appear it is recommended to seek professional medical advice before continuing any exercise.

If you have no systemic symptoms and only have a stuffy or runny nose, you may resume training as early as possible depending on your physical condition. However, it is still recommended to use low-intensity and short-distance riding methods.

One principle: “below the neck”

If you’re looking for advice that’s particularly easy to read and concise, follow the “below the neck” rule.

In general, you should rest if you have symptoms below the neck, such as chest tightness and cough, stomach problems, or fever. Riding with a tight chest cough can put extra stress on your lungs and heart, as well as making frequent stops to cough up excess mucus during the ride.

If you just feel something strange in your nose, it won’t have much impact on riding.

Promote recovery

There are lots of things you can do to boost your immune system, NHS GP and road cycling enthusiast Helen Metcalfe suggests the following:

  1. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of electrolyte-rich water;
  2. When you feel unwell, your body needs more rest than usual. It is best to slow down the frequency and intensity of training and go to bed a few nights earlier to recover;
  3. Vitamin C has long been considered to have the effect of repelling colds, but research shows that citrus fruits cannot effectively slow down the condition of colds, and turmeric has a similar effect.
  4. One of the most important ways to ensure effective resistance to disease is to eat a balanced and nutritious diet, including the intake of a multivitamin. Vitamin D deficiency can hinder immune function, especially in northern winter when there is insufficient sunlight. This should be actively supplemented. The maintenance dose to prevent deficiency is about 1,000iu per day.

The above methods are all proven in practice and can effectively enhance your ability to resist diseases. The most important thing is that you must be patient.

Strengthen your defenses

Prevention is better than cure, which begs the question: How can cycling increase your chances of avoiding getting sick?

When riding in winter, you should be fully prepared to feel very cold once you stop and let the warm-up wear off. Therefore, it is recommended to wear multiple layers of thin clothing. If you feel too hot, you can take them off and stuff them into your pockets. If you have to stop unexpectedly, you can quickly put them on again.

A pair of warm gloves, shoe covers, a bandana or a small hat is very important. We lose a lot of heat from our limbs and head, which are also the first places to feel the cold. You should also stop early and put on a waterproof jacket if it starts to rain. Humidity and cold are the main culprits in causing a rapid drop in body temperature.

Additionally, you may find that cold, dry air irritates your respiratory tract. Therefore, it is best to wear a scarf or mask.

Use testing equipment

Cycling tips 3 when you have a cold

You can also choose some high-tech to check your physical condition, such as HRV heart rate variability, which refers to the time change between consecutive heartbeats and is used to monitor the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system to evaluate Your training readiness. This indicator has been proposed for many years and is well monitored, but has always been on the fringes. But for professionals, it’s very common.

“We use it frequently at UAE,” Rotunno said. “It serves as a non-invasive tool to assess the status of the autonomic nervous system and detect physical changes that may be due to overtraining, fatigue and illness. It is also useful for monitoring recovery. Very useful.”

Recreational riders can monitor HRV through a number of smartwatches, standalone training tools and apps, such as HRV4Training, a mobile app that takes measurements by placing a finger on the camera.

Rotunno continued: “We also monitor sleep patterns and their changes, and all this data is integrated into a team platform application that alerts all medical staff and riders to possible problems with their personnel so that we can intervene early , to prevent complications.”

As with any training tool, the more you use it, the more useful it becomes. Therefore, take advantage of these tools, continue to use them in normal times, and accumulate data when you are healthy to better cope with winter. Maintain a healthy diet and riding plan so that winter or riding while sick doesn’t bother you.


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