Discussion: Colds and exercise
in: Orienteering; General;
My motto has always been: If you can breathe, you can train. I only take an off day due to illness if my lungs are totally gunked. Odd that the studies were considered that obscure. I knew about them, as do most of the trainers I work with. I'm afraid this says more about the general lack of interest in active health among AMA types than it does about the supposed lack of research in Kinesiology.
Yes, for decades I have followed the rule that if your problems are above the neck (e.g. stuffy nose), train, but if your problems are below the neck (e.g. junk in the lungs), take time off. Like Eric, I assumed that was common knowledge among physicians and athletes.
My empirical studies bring me to the same conclusion. I always get out and run with a cold. Actually, takes my mind off the perceived misery.
It seems to me that this study only took into account non athletes. Those who use light to moderate exercise do not put much strain on their bodies. So it should be viewed sceptically The study for athletes who train and race at a high level may not yet have been done. My anecdotal evidence over the years is that continuing hard training and racing with a viral infection can worsen the condition.
The studies have been done, but much of the info is inaccessible without a subscription.
Immune function in sport and exercise
Influence of carbohydrate status on immune responses before and after endurance exercise
I continue my training too as long as the lungs are clear, but I don't go out and do high intensity or really long duration workouts.
The advice I've received from trainers (again, no offense to any MD's who might be lurking, but I haven't received much useful training advice from any of them) is that LIGHT exercise can help and rarely hurts if you feel up to it. I would think that refraining from real hard stuff would fall under common sense, but athletes aren't known for employing that in abundance. At any rate, I have raced while pretty sick and it hasn't made much difference one way or another.
I would normally second Eric's and Rex's opinion based on personal experience, but forever live forever learn, as they say in the mother country. Just last week I got something that didn't seem serious, certainly contained "above the neck", and was eager to do a Pacific Coast Trail Run about three days after the issue started. I figured I'd just take it as a training run if things weren't quite working out. I had run a bunch of 50 k's through multiple bouts of strep throat last winter, and usually don't let a simple cold stop me.
Well, I was reduced to a miserable stumbler on legs of cotton about an hour into the run, and the only incentive for me to finish, through clutched teeth, was meeting all the people I hadn't seen in a while, and the gorgeous views we get even once in a while in the winter. The legs have stayed that way for about a week now. Were the views worth a missed week of training? probably not.
On a serious note I had a friend who was in the same minibus as Mike Wells Cole , an ex British orienteering champion, who was taken ill and died after running an orienterring race with a cold. I believe there was a series of similar incidents in Sweden in the 90s when several runners also died. Cause was pericarditus where the heart lining swelled as a post race reaction and essentially squeezed the heart to hard. I know my friend said that they all felt very powerless in the bus as there were no obvious signs what was causing the distress. My understanding is that only a few of the cold virus strains can provoke this reaction but how do you know which one you have.....
Oh, the old pericarditis/myocarditis killing Swedish orienteers legend... dies so hard... especially in the absence of proven data.
Well, it is certainly a fact that several (young and active) Swedish elite orienteers suddenly died of heart failure within an unusually short period of time. This happened in the early 90s. It is not a legend.
However, as to the _cause_ of the deaths, I do agree that this lead to much speculation, rumours and misinformation.
In any case, a legacy of this episode is that elite orienteers are a bit more careful these days to participate in hard races while suffering a cold virus. There used to be some serious peer pressure to run the big team relays regardless of these issues, never to let the team down. Some ran 15 km night orienteering legs in rain and close to freezing temperatures even though they had a "head cold".
It was never proven that this behavior had anything to do with the deaths, but nevertheless people are more careful now and it's more accepted to say no when feeling a bit sick.
Many years ago Uppsala researchers had identified Bartonella as the likley pathogen responsible for the deaths. In his Editorial in Scand J Med Sci Sports in 2001, Pedersen (2001) suggested that "a survey should be performed of the presence of antibodies against various Bartonella species in orienteers in various countries, e.g. in Sweden, Norway and Denmark" after Lannergård et al. (2001) found no immune dysfunction in Swedish orienteers that could lead to sudden unexpected cardiac death.
Does anybody know if that survey was ever undertaken? If not, I wonder why. The "why just Sweden" question remains an interesting aspect of these unfortunate deaths.
I haven´t heard anything about an additional survey being undertaken - there may have been of course, but not to my knowledge.
Here you can find some of the research in Sweden in the early 90ies:Sudden Cardiac death in Swedish orienteers
The "why just Sweden" question is still open. There were many differing theories as to what the cause could have been - one being that there may have been certain microorganisms present in the forests of a rather limited geographic area where all or most of these young orienteers had been running...
My doctor says if I feel like training, it is OK to train.
This discussion thread is closed.