I faced a scientific dilemma tonight. I had a swimming practice, but I also had a cold.
When you have a cold, you are supposed to rest and get well. But exercise is oh so very good for your health. Perhaps it is worthwhile to exercise despite not feeling well.
You might be tempted to Google up some folk wisdom and people’s opinions on the matter. But its easy for folks to get confused. Exercise causes so many complicated reactions in the body, that its easy to believe that many people would confuse correlations with causation or make another reasoning error and develop erroneous, superstitious beliefs. This is really a question that’s best addressed by a study.
Two randomized experimental trials using small numbers of subjects have provided important preliminary data in support of the viewpoint that moderate physical activity may reduce URTI [upper respiratory tract infections] symptomatology. Clinical data support the concept that heavy exertion increases the athlete’s risk of URTI because of negative changes in immune function and elevation of the stress hormones, epinephrine, and cortisol. On the other hand, there is growing evidence that moderate amounts of exercise may decrease one’s risk of URTI through favourable changes in immune function without the negative attending effects of the stress hormones.
I don’t have time to evaluate its quality properly let alone do a proper literature review, but it has more than 200 citations, some of which are from the past couple of years. That’s good enough for me to hit the pool. But, I’ll make sure not to work too hard. It sounds like that would be bad.
If I had listened to Google, I might have gotten it wrong.