Should I Go Skiing With A Cold?

Most people have had a cold at one time or another in their life. Unfortunately, sometimes it is when they have something planned such as a ski vacation. Exercising when sick isn’t always the best option, and you might be wondering if you can still go skiing with a cold.

Skiing with a cold is not the best idea. However, as long as your cold is not too severe, with the symptoms mostly confined to above the neck, then it should be okay to ski as long as you give it about 50% of the effort you would while healthy. It’s important to know when you’re too sick to ski.

Going skiing with a simple runny nose isn’t that big an issue. However, precautions can be taken in order to get you out and skiing. Below, we discuss whether you can go skiing with a head cold and some changes you can make if you don’t want to get anything more serious.

Should You Ski With A Cold?

You should not ski with a cold. Unfortunately, if you have paid hundreds of dollars for your ski vacation this isn’t something that you would want to hear. The reason that you shouldn’t ski while you have a cold is very similar to the reasons you shouldn’t really do any exercise while sick.

This is because when you have a cold your body needs to be able to focus on fighting off the illness. This means that your body will use more energy than usual to help produce white blood cells which will fight the sickness and prevent it from becoming something more serious. 

If you go skiing it will take energy away from this process splitting your energy between fighting the cold and the physical aspect of skiing. If less energy is provided to fighting the cold, it could lead to your common cold lingering or even progressing into something more serious like a chest infection.

If you are in the predicament that you have booked a ski vacation and feel a cold coming in the days before you go, try to get as much rest as you can before you go on the trip. Eat healthy foods, like soup which is great for hydration, and if you still have it while you’re away try to go easy on your first couple of days on the trip and try some less physical mountain activities.

What If You Absolutely Want To Ski?

As mentioned before, ski trips are pricey and can have very high upfront costs so getting a cold and skipping out on a couple of days skiing can be a very unappealing prospect. However, there still could be a chance. You might be able to ski with your cold as long as your symptoms are above your neck.

What Are Above The Neck Symptoms?

Above the neck symptoms are generally the things you have with a mild cold. This includes symptoms like a runny/blocked nose, sore throat, headache, or watery eyes. With just these symptoms it should be fine for you to ski, but you should still try to use half the effort that you might normally by having light skiing sessions.

What Are Below Neck Symptoms?

Below the neck symptoms are exactly what they sound like, cold symptoms below the neck. These include chesty cough, body ache, fever, vomiting, and fatigue. The reason these are an issue is that they can be a sign of a more serious illness.

Exercising while you have any one of these symptoms is not great, skiing with any one of them can exacerbate a cold as the freezing weather can cause all kinds of issues. You should be especially cautious of a chesty cough, as you will just be adding stress to your heart and lungs and could easily develop a more serious condition such as pneumonia.

Skiing When You Have The Cold

Skiing with above neck cold symptoms will be different from the type of skiing you do when you’re healthy. You should take it easy and allow your body to fight the symptoms. Below are a few tips to make sure that you ski safely and don’t make your cold into something much worse.

Dress Warmly

As a winter activity, 9 times out of 10 it is going to be cold when you go out skiing. Although it is wise to make sure you are warmly dressed even when you are healthy, it is even more important to make sure you dress warmly while you have a cold.

Wear a buff around your neck, use heat pads on your extremities, and watch out for the temperature dropping. Exercising in cold air can cause stress to your lungs and is known to be an issue for healthy skiers let alone someone with a cold.

Don’t Ski With Competitive Individuals 

Everyone knows that one person that likes to make a casual ski trip feel like a competitive event. Maybe it’s a partner or friend you have brought on your trip or met up with at the resort. They say that they want to take a couple of easy runs which can quickly turn into time trials or a park trip.

Other people’s energy can be contagious and although you want to take it easy, being with people like this can accidentally get you pushing yourself into a hard pace and out of your comfort zone. This can be dangerous when you have a cold. Don’t push yourself and enjoy your runs with some nice chill skiing.

Don’t Track Your Skiing

With a plethora of fitness and ski tracking apps available on the market nowadays there are a lot of us that like to keep track of our stats while skiing. While these apps are designed to help us be our best, they can be an issue when you have a cold that you are trying to keep mild.

Try to have your apps turned off as it can be tempting to try and improve your stats if they are running constantly.Especially with mild symptoms as you might think what’s the worst that can happen.

An example of one such stat is as simple as trying to increase your speed. It might not seem like much but exposing yourself to harsh cold air is not great for your lungs and can actually help shift your cold from above to below the neck.

Don’t Have A Long Day Of Skiing

When you are fit and healthy there is nothing wrong with skiing from lift opening to close. After all, it will give you your money’s worth on your lift pass and allow you to really open up the mountain. However, a full day’s skiing while you have a cold will put your body under a lot of stress.

The endurance required for a day’s skiing can be high for the average person let alone someone with a cold. Your body will be prioritizing the demands of staying out and this can be double if it is an especially cold day as your body will need to work at keeping you nice and toasty. 

Reduce The Intensity

Try to take it easy while you go skiing. You don’t have to rush to a black run or the park on your first morning up the hill. Reduce your pace and lengthen your turns so you cruise down the slopes more than race from A to B.

If you up the intensity of your ski it will only end up exhausting your body as your energy is being split between making you better and what is required for an intense ski. Ski at a comfortable pace and who knows, you might have shifted the cold before the end of your trip.

Listen To Your Body

Pay attention to how you feel as you ski. What started in the morning as a sore throat might develop into a cough in the afternoon. If you are starting to feel worse than you did when you started it is okay to cut your day short. Go get some rest, have a good meal, and rehydrate. Doing so can help make the world of difference, especially in the days to come.

Are You Sure It’s A Cold?

It is not unknown that wintertime lines up with a big chunk of cold and flu season. But before you get upset over having the sniffles while on your ski trip it might just be some allergies that might be causing your symptoms.

Allergies at the beginning of spring and tree allergies are known to have symptoms similar to a cold. Make sure you bring some antihistamines with you and watch out for other allergy symptoms such as rashes which you generally won’t have with a cold.

Final Thoughts

If you have a cold, you probably shouldn’t go out skiing. However, if you absolutely have to ski, make sure that you only do so while you have above neck symptoms, and take it easy. Colds can easily become something worse. It’s better to have fun at 50% capacity than not being able to ski at all.