Can Exercise Relieve Nasal Congestion?

Mild to moderate physical exercise can temporarily relieve nasal congestion. A runny nose often occurs because of irritation in your nasal passages. This can occur due to a variety of causes, including sinus infections, airborne substances such as smoke or strong perfumes, and allergies.

Exercises such as push-ups can provide quick relief by opening your nasal passages and reducing inflammation that may be affecting them. However, this may not be the best approach in all cases.

Relieving nasal congestion through light exercise can be helpful when your symptoms are not severe and are limited to your nose, throat, or other parts of your head. However, if you’re experiencing symptoms that are worse or occurring in other parts of your body, such as a fever, fatigue, chest congestion, or muscle aches, it may be best to rest and avoid unnecessary exertion.

Additionally, physical exercise may even be a contributing factor to your nasal congestion in certain cases. If you have asthma, for example, your congestion may be a result of exercise-induced asthma, which causes your airways to constrict in response to hard physical activity.

Before exercising with nasal congestion or a cold, you should talk to an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT), also known as an otolaryngologist, to determine the cause of your congestion and whether physical exercise may help or harm your symptoms. An otolaryngologist can also prescribe decongestant medication or recommend alternative methods of relieving your congestion that may be safer for you, such as:

  • Using a humidifier
  • Taking a hot shower
  • Drinking more water throughout the day
  • Applying a warm compress to your face

If you’re experiencing nasal congestion, you can find an otolaryngologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-7110.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.