Exercising with chest infections

Hello all, I have heard conflicting views about exercise with chest infections over the years and last month was told that it was best not to (I have COPD and bronchiectasis and at the time a bad chest infection). I did active breathing but it is not as good at shifting mucus so would rather persevere even with gentle exercise. Will be interested to hear your views, thanks.

36 Replies

  • Hi. I was told by my gp, nurse and pulmonary rehab team not to over do exercise if I had a chest infection. But I suppose a little shouldn't hurt. Please let us know how you get on. Love Bernadette 😊 xx

  • Thank you xx

  • When it comes to exercising the general rule is that when symptoms are above the neck, such as stuffy nose, sore throat or headache, it is okay to exercise in moderation. However, when signs or symptoms are below the neck, such as the deep cough, high fever and chest congestion associated with chest infections it is not recommended that you exercise. Then it is better to rest. If you do choose to exercise perhaps you should reduce it?

    More here:


  • Thanks for the advice and link :)

  • At my weekly PR workout the physios encourage people with infections to come and exercise - and yes, gently. I think that's ok if there's enough room to keep away from infected people. All very well them exercising with their above-the-neck infections but those could be passed on and quite possibly turn into a lower and severe chest infection for someone else. I feel people should stay away if they are at an infectious stage, i.e. early in the infection. Or am I being unfair?

  • I have always been told to exersice when I can with or with out an infection. As you can become ill from people showing now sign of an infection. And just keep your life as normal as posable. I did go through a stage when I was coughing up a lot of mucus and had a ct scan that showed a small amount of bronch. But now I only cough up stuff when I have an infection. I have been to PR classes when not feeling well and been told just to do what I can.

  • I think its a good idea in theory Nottobad, but in practice it would help if everyone at PR knew who was ill so they could keep a distance. I would always tell others and I would never go the first few days of any infection but would exercise at home.

    Of course people can be infectious when they are asymptomatic. If I can I tend to keep distant from most people on the off chance. For instance if i go to the cinema I book a seat at the back on the end so I don't have to risk people breathing all over me. I could never live as a recluse but with good infection control you can minimise the infections you get - its a balance of risk.

    Im speaking as someone with copd (though I do have some recently dxd bronch). But as I understand it, people with bronch who are colonised with bacteria don't tend to be a threat - they have different kinds of infection and are more at risk themselves from others with viruses. (Someone can correct me if I've got that wrong.)

  • I always wonder if a lot of people prone to infection are in one place and coughing & spluttering... they all risk getting it. Seems overly risky to me. Or maybe they think people will get it anyway?

    But isn't the advice to avoid people with colds & flu and public places in the 'colds' season?

  • I cough most of the time don't always have an infection. That is what we are recommended to do stay away from people with colds but it is not always posable . We are also told to live a normal life too well I am. I have a low immune system. But have not been told to live like a recluse. Witch is the only way you won't catch anything I would go stir crazy if I could not go out

  • "But have not been told to live like a recluse."

    Guess we all have to make our peace with the risks and get on with living our lives. As in reply above,there is a huge amount of things you can do to cut down the risk.

  • I know that I got flu jag and peunomonia jag. Had pneumonia jag in 2006 and again in 2015 when dx with autoimmune disorders. And have to take medication that are immune suppressants. But I have been refered to see a immunologist consultant to see what they can do for me. As eveytime. I have to take Abs I have to come off the immune suppressants. And still came down with pneumonia in 2016. So there is no guarantee you will not get anything even doing things to cut down the risks.

  • Your medical situation sounds complicated Nottobad, and of course Im not saying there is a guarantee - only a fool would say that - but Ive not needed ABs since double pneumonia and type 1 respiratory failure nearly two years ago. I have a regime of supplements, exercise and infection control including flu and a new pneumonia jabs. I have no idea what is keeping me well and know it could go wrong again in a heartbeat but so far so good.

    We are all different but I sort of think we need to proceed as if we can control it and stay well, even though we know it may not work. For me the alternative is too difficult. Having written this i'll probably go down with something later this week :D

  • Hi 02trees we are all different. My problem is having something wrong my immune system if my resp consultant thought giving me supplements would be good for me he would give me them and not refer me to an immunologist. I am glad that you haven't used abs for a long time and I hope that continues. Take care.

  • I am seeing the immunologist on Thursday. So it will be interesting to see what she says.

  • Do let us know Nottobad - hope you have a useful appointment.

  • Really hope you don't go down with anything :)

    I am interested in knowing the supplements you take. I am been thinking of ones to boost the immune system or even just probiotics but still at thinking stage.

  • Thanks Fiona :)

    Re supplements:

    Vitamin C - 1500 mg

    Vitamin D3 - 3000 iu (see recent post re vitamin D)

    Vitamin B6 - 200 mg (Viridian - also has other Bs in it and other stuff)

    Bromelain - 500mg (for digestion/reflux)

    Ubiquinol (CoQ10 absorbable kind) - 100 mg

    Magnesium citrate - 375 mg

    Organic turmeric powder - 1 tsp along with black pepper and coconut oil as it's not very bioavailable on its own and these 2 help you absorb it. (You can look up interesting small trial on Trust Me Im a Doctor which showed cooking turmeric has good effect)

    Cinnamon - 1/4 tsp

    That's it. I take the capsules just before my porridge and mix the turmeric, pepper and coconut oil, and cinnamon into my porridge (goes deep yellow ocre) and if i remember i grate ginger root into the porridge too.

    No idea specifically which ones might boost the immune system.

  • Thanks for this - I tried turmeric pills once as I also have arthritis and it helps with inflammation, but couldn't swallow them without retching - will definitely try it in cooking like you said (along with the vitamins and minerals). For a while I drank water with barley grass powder every morning but got out of the habit - really liked the taste so will start that again too - anything to try and stave off the infections.

  • There is something contradictory about that soulsaver!

  • That's what I understand!

  • Hi

    Gentle is the key word, keep hydrated no caffeine. If helps you with your mucus clearance it as to be good. Rember Gentle.

  • Thank you - can't cope with caffeine but like the sound of gentle

  • Hi I have been told not to exercise much during the cold weather if I have a chest infection. I think it's ok to do it indoors but certainly not outside. x

  • Thanks for the advice - not keen on doing anything outdoors at the moment :)

  • I found the mucus is sticky and very difficult to clear from my throat. Don't know if you have the same problem but a tablet called Mucinex has worked magic for me. On the downside, it's not available on prescription in New Zealand but means I can sleep better. I use an old exercycle I found in an online auction - you can regulate the speed you pedal and the amount of resistance. Best of luck.

  • Thanks Ian, yes but it's intermittent throughout the day and comes up quite easily after exercise. I have a cycle and recently brought an elliptical exerciser and both have easy settings so that seems to be the best course to take. Best of luck to you too.

  • Hi Fiona. When I've got an infection, I find the mucus much stickier and harder to shift. It loosens as the abs take effect. I drink lots & do steam inhalations. Personally, I wouldn't exercise with a chest infection. Sometimes a virus can cause inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) so substantially increasing your heart rate isn't a good idea.

  • Thanks Hanne, very useful info

  • I don't shift much mucous with ordinary active breathing but postural drainage works wonders. I have COPD, asthma and bronchiectasis. I usually do the drainage a few hours after being up. Just lying down on my side gets it going.

    I don't get as much exercise as I should but agree that it can help with the mucous clearance. However, trying to exercise with an infection is probably not a great idea as rest is recommended.

  • Thanks MoyB - I have just looked up postural drainage and will definitely give it a go especially when I have infections.

  • I tried to exercisewhile I was recovering from a lung infection, such as lifting 3 pound hand weights and it bothered me,it made my heart palpitate toohard I have a stent replacement so actually this kind of frightened me. My GP advised me not to exercise during recovery from any respiratory illnesses, now what works for me possibly may not work for you but I hope this information it's helpful. God bless, take good care of your body and by all means feel free to reach out to us at any time

  • Thank you - much appreciated :)

  • What a lovely thought.

  • If you can do a little exersice ok ,but listen to your body ,and don't over do it .also I used to struggle with my active breathing ,then I was prescribed a flutter devise ,,,,now it's so much easier to clear my chest and lungs even the base of my lungs ,I wouldn't be without it .

  • Thank you - I must get a flutter device as I have heard good things about them on this site.

  • They're very helpful - another endorsement :)

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