Sinus Infections

Can I Exercise with a Sinus Infection?

September 15, 2018

5 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Exercise is good for you. But is exercise with a sinus infection good for you? If you like to exercise and be active, you may be tempted to work out with a sinus infection. Athletes in particular face a dilemma when they are sick, and often call us to ask, “Should I work out with a sinus infection?” or “Can exercise help a sinus infection?”

While it may seem counterintuitive, there are some exercises you can do while you have a sinus infection. However, participating in any kind of strenuous physical activity should remain limited. As with anything health-related, it’s always smart to check with a professional. Call a sinus doctor in Houston and ask whether or not they think you should, personally, be working out with a sinus infection.

Working out with a sinus infection: the potential benefits

Does exercise help sinusitis? Why do my sinuses clear when I exercise? Does exercise help sinus pressure? All of these frequently asked questions can be answered with an explanation of the benefits of working out with a sinus infection.

And yes, there are some benefits to working out with a sinus infection. Light exercise can help white blood cell production, increase blood circulation, and give you a little bit of an endorphin boost.

But one of the biggest benefits you can get from working out with a sinus infection is that exercise encourages your body to produce adrenaline. Adrenaline, a hormone that, among other things, can help your blood vessels contract. Contracted blood vessels may help reduce the inflammation and swelling that causes a sinus infection.

In other words, exercising with a sinus infection may help clear your sinuses and reduce some headache-inducing sinus pressure. Granted, working out with sinus pressure probably won’t seem like much fun, but a little movement can sometimes go a long way.

Working out with a sinus infection: the potential drawbacks

While exercising with a sinus infection can have benefits, it’s important that you don’t overdo it. Should your sinus infection have traveled into your chest, all doctors will recommend that you avoid exercise. Your body will benefit more from rest than from a walk.

No matter where in your body your sinus infection is living, it’s best to avoid activities that require balance. We’ll get into why below, but for now simply know that when your nasal passages are blocked, you have an increased chance of feeling dizzy.

There are a few other things you should check on before deciding whether or not to exercise. For example, if you have a sinus infection, weather changes may give you more trouble than normal, so it’s smart to keep an eye on the forecast.

It’s also helpful to check in with other symptoms besides your congestion. If you have both a sinus infection and nausea (likely caused by the sinus infection), then it’s better to avoid any kind of activity so as to not further upset your stomach.

Yoga with a sinus infection

Yoga and other light exercises such as walking (a short distance) and pilates are perhaps the best means to exercise for sinus relief. As described above, yoga can help your blood vessels contract and reduce both congestion and sinus pressure.

Some doctors recommend avoiding postures in which you head goes below your waste. Doing so may increase your headache.

Lifting weights with a sinus infection

Lifting weights with a sinus infection is not a good idea. Because you are sick, not only is your strength going to be compromised, but your coordination is going to be less on point than normal, too. Nobody wants to feel dizzy when their doing squats or deadlifts.

Running and sinus infections

Running is another activity that those who are exercising with a sinus infection should avoid. Sinus congestion increases the pressure in your chest, which creates non-ideal conditions for breathing. To compensate, your heart may kick into high gear, which can make you more susceptible to having a stroke or a heart attack.

Cycling with a sinus infection

While some doctors may give the green light for a brief bike ride with a sinus infection, it’s best to remain cautious. If you can, keep the ride an easy one, avoid polluted areas that might aggravate your sinuses, and try to ride in flat areas, where changes in pressure are less likely to affect you.

Swimming and sinus infections

While some people have reported that swimming helps clear their sinuses (especially if they have allergies), it’s still best to avoid the pool if you have a sinus infection. If you are still contagious, then you risk infecting others; if you are congested, then you may struggle with breathing in the water; and if chlorine irritates your sinuses, then you risk making your sinus infection worse.

Exercise your right to sinus relief

If a sinus infection is left untreated, it can cause further health complications, no matter how diligent you are about exercising lightly (and only lightly). Working out with a sinus infection may provide you with temporary relief, but one of the best things you can do to get rid of your sinus infection for good is to seek out a sinus doctor in Houston.

Your doctor can answer your questions, such as “What are the foods that help with sinus infections?” If you have severe and/or recurring sinus infections, balloon sinuplasty — an in-office, non-invasive procedure that can be completed within only 21 minutes — may provide you with long-lasting relief.  

Dr. Kaplan specializes in balloon sinuplasty and has helped thousands of Houstonians like you find long-lasting sinus relief. If you’re ready to hit the gym, get out on the track, ride the trails, or swim some laps call us at (713) 766-1818 and schedule an appointment today.

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