Swimming can be a winning activity for anyone who enjoys exercising, as long as they are healthy. However people who work in the leisure industry see all too often adults and children alike, who are poorly with a cold frequenting the pools and dosed up with medicine to mask their symptoms. You generally experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms with a cold. Figuring out the best time to pull the plug on the pool can be especially hard if you don't want to miss out on invaluable pool time. Here we let you in on why swimming with a cold is a bad idea.
Early in our lives most of us were told by our water safety concerned parents not to swim right after eating. We were left worried, with the thought that if we didn't listen to their advice we would be seized with cramps and sink like a ravioli in a pan of water. So why does no one say anything about the potential harm that could be caused by swimming with a cold? Perhaps it's because it isn't life threatening or because it doesn't leave us in discomfort. Swimming with a cold has it's own downsides.
Firstly you run the risk of exposing other people to the cold. The germs and other bacteria thrive in a warm, damp environment. The possibility of spreading infection in the water is high and can cause other people to become sick. You might think that the chlorine would kill all of the bacteria, and it does to an extent. However it's quite surprising how some bacteria can survive. That's how waterborne illnesses and diseases are spread.
Swimming is usually a quite refreshing and fun activity, but with a cold It's hard to enjoy because you don't feel like it most of the time. It will probably be an unpleasant experience. People who have colds usually have a fever, so the water will feel even more chilly then normal. The person with the cold will be contagious for the first three to four days from when the symptoms first appear. They could possibly be contagious for up to three weeks depending on the strain of cold. Though the majority of colds are usually cleared up within a week.
While it is known that swimming can help to alleviate cold symptoms in some people, it may not be the same for everyone. The water can assist in washing out and opening up your sinuses, especially those who suffer from allergies. The increased blood flow, body heat and chlorine tend to work together to clear out the head. However some people can find that while they have a runny nose and a sore throat, being congested has its downsides too. Being congested could make it harder to breathe, and abnormal breathing and swimming are not a good combination. If you are congested it could also cause a higher rate.
If you decide to go swimming while you still have a cold. Though you might feel slightly better for a short while, you run the risk of feeling worse afterwards. A cold means your body is suffering from a virus and your immune system is compromised so you're prone to pick up something else. You're best to abstain from any riguous activity. This will help your body and you to recover from the cold much more quickly than if you were to continue as normal.
Going swimming before symptoms appear is unlikely to cause any harm or spread infection. However if you have become newly poorly with a cold than the best thing to do is to skip any swimming activties until you're well enough to start up again. It's your responsibility to take precautions to avoid affecting others. So it is best to wait a full week to see if the worst of the cold dissipates before you decide to get back in the water again. Not only will you get better much more quickly in general, but you will also have avoided others becoming poorly due to your cold. You will have more time in the weeks ahead to get back into your swim routine. Perhaps you could choose an alternative activity, maybe take on something indoors until you can swim again. While at home with a cold you could further help yourself to feel better by installing a humidifier in your room. This will help improve your symptoms as the moist air will open your nasal passages so that you no longer have a runny nose.
Even though colds are a part of life a cold can really bog you down and reduce your activities, but by abstaining from swimming until symptoms are no longer present then that can benefit everyone in the long run. Hopefully if you're suffering from a cold right now that it goes away soon, so you can get back in the water.