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How to avoid cold and flu after winter workout?


The following is an actual conversation between an iCliniq user and a doctor that has been reviewed and published as a Premium Q&A.

Medically reviewed by

iCliniq medical review team

Published At October 22, 2016
Reviewed AtAugust 2, 2023

Patient's Query

Hello doctor,

I like to go running. I was a very successful marathon runner when younger. Now I still workout, but my goal, apart from general health is mostly emotional fitness for the job. I work on the phone with customers and I have to be in a strong positive mood to be successful. I am currently living in a country where the climate is very cold and dark. When I work out it is not about speed or distance for me it is about sweating. Because, when I breathe deeply and sweat very deeply, I have the feeling that is the point when my cardiovascular system gets activated the most.

Now, I found some friends who are really in shape and who do really great workouts with me. The problem is that since I do not have a car, I always have to reach back home by foot. This weekend I am currently with cold and flu. I think that I got it because I went running, sweated, stopped and then walked slowly with wet clothes through the night for about 30 to 40 minutes. In the summer, I never had this problem. Since I train with the friends, I sweat even more and the winter has already started. What do you like to tell me about this? Should I manage to run home, even with wet clothes such that I would at least not get cold? Should I take a taxi to reach home in 15 minutes? Should I later take a warm bath?


Welcome to icliniq.com.

Yes, it is easy to catch cold, particularly if you are in a cold, wet and windy weather. Also, exposure to extremely cold temperature affects you in many ways and can cause frost nip (first stage of frostbite), trench foot (prolonged exposure of feet to cold) and frostbite (damage to skin due to cold), chilblains (itchy swelling in hands due to blood vessel inflammation) and last but not the least hypothermia (low body temperature).

On the top of that, you being a marathon runner and a fit person will be having less amount of subcutaneous fat, which usually insulates you from cold temperatures like a quilt. Moreover, after a workout and sweating a lot, if you do not compensate by drinking water, you may get dehydrated and that further predisposes you to the ill effects of cold exposure. Well, I would advise you to take a cab to return home, particularly when the weather is so cold.

Here are a few don'ts to keep in mind: Avoid drinking alcohol, wearing wet clothes, and smoking, as it can constrict blood vessels and weaken your body's natural defenses against cold temperatures. For post-workout, consider the following dos: Wear warm winter clothes, stay hydrated by drinking water or juice to compensate for sweat loss, enjoy warm drinks like coffee, soups, and lukewarm water, and take a warm shower. If you have frostbite or blisters, avoid immersing in hot water immediately. Never run in cold weather with wet clothes; take a taxi, especially if you have the flu. Lukewarm showers can be beneficial, but they won't compensate for cold injuries. The duration of exposure to cold depends on factors like temperature, clothing, and your physical condition. Prioritize your health as emotional well-being is closely tied to your overall health.

Patient's Query

Thank you doctor,

I have another question. In this cold country, I get grippe around three to four times in each winter. Does this have long term consequences for the heart or lungs? I have some left-sided chest pain. Can this be the reason?


Welcome back to icliniq.com.

Grippe or flu is an acute viral illness. Though it is perennial (detected all year around), its incidence peaks in winters due to cold temperature. It will make the respiratory mucosa dry and thus impair the natural defense mechanism to fight the bug. Taking rest along with adequate fluids and Paracetamol is the mainstay of management. Flu, though benign, may sometimes become malignant due to secondary bacterial infection leading to bacterial pneumonia and sometimes mutations may lead to viral pneumonia.

Taking protective measures like good food, not sharing linen and kerchiefs, avoiding too cold temperatures to fight winters.Your chest pain again may be cardiac or non-cardiac, that is may be musculoskeletal due to spasms or gastric. Clear description of pain that is type, location, intensity, radiation, sweating, nausea or vomiting, duration of pain, aggravating and relieving factors are required to categorize the pain.

Same symptoms don't mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Dr. Geetha Priyadarsini Kamminana
Dr. Geetha Priyadarsini Kamminana

Internal Medicine

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