Can Running in the Rain Make You Sick?


If running in the rain was the only recipe for an illness, then people in the perennially-wet Pacific Northwest would be stuck training on treadmills for most of the year. Fortunately, that’s not the case, and running in the rain is not necessarily going to make you sick. There are risks to running in the rain, but with proper precautions, you won’t have to resign yourself to endless hours running like a rat in a cage.

How You Get Sick
When it comes to viruses like the common cold, you’ll contract them when you touch something that has a virus on it, and then you touch your nose, mouth or eyes. You’ll also contract a virus from inhaling mucus through the air, suggests the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. During the rainy months of the year, you’re more likely to spend time inside, which will increase your chances of coming into contact with viruses.


The Risks of Running in the Rain
While there is no conclusive evidence that says running in the rain will make you sick, there are still risks involved with running in the rain.
Studies have shown that lowering a person’s body temperature may make them more prone to contracting viruses through the methods of transmission named above.
In other words, it’s the coldness, not the wetness, that may make you more susceptible to succumbing to a virus. In some areas, the rain may be caused by excess pollution in the air — which could put you at risk of upper respiratory distress or an asthma attack.
Rain also means wet conditions, which increases your risk of slipping and falling. Drivers are also less likely to see you in a rain storm, so the risk of getting hit by a car also increases.
While that won’t make you sick, an injury could sideline you from running.

When You Can’t Avoid It
If you’re running a race or you have to run in a downpour for another reason,

  • Set yourself up to get out of that wet, cold clothing as soon as possible.
  • Stash dry clothing in a plastic bag and put it in your running backpack or in your car, where it will be ready for you right after the race.
  • Your best judgement is key here; if the rain is so bad that you’re going to be soaked in a matter of a few minutes, chances are your body temperature is going to drop too low to make running outdoors worth the effort.