You’ve got your exercise routine down to a science, when BAM! You get hit with a bug! “Should I continue exercising through a cold or flu? If I stop will I have a hard time starting back up? Oh my God! I’ll lose everything I’ve worked so hard for! What should I do? WHAT SHOULD I DO?!” Calm down, take a deep breath (through your mouth if your nose is blocked of course), and read this:
The answer depends on whatcha got. Exercising with a cold may be all right, but there’s a thing called “the neck check.” If your symptoms are above the neck, including a sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, and headache, it’s okay to exercise, but if your symptoms are below the neck: coughing, body aches, fever, stomach issues and overall fatigue, then skip the fitness till you feel better. If you have a fever DO NOT exercise! The danger is that exercise raises your body temperature even more, which can make you MUCH sicker than you already are.
That being said, be sure to listen to your body, and don’t push yourself. If you can’t, you can’t. Even if you do decide to exercise through your cold, the intensity of your workout should be a lot lighter than normal. When we’re sick, a hard workout can be more than our immune system can handle.
Some examples of some lighter exercise you can do are:
- walking (preferably outdoors),
- low intensity stationary bike riding
Gym Etiquette When Exercising While Sick
Do your best not to spread your germs to the rest of the gym. Put a towel down on all equipment you touch, and wipe it off when you’re done. Wash your hands often, especially right after blowing your nose.
If I Take a Time Out, am I Doomed?
If you’re a regular exerciser missing a few days or a week is not going to have much impact on your progress. You don’t tend to have negative affects unless you miss a few weeks.
Ease Back In
Even the most avid exerciser needs to ease back into exercise after an illness. Start slow and step it up gradually.
The Prevention Prescription
Stop it before it starts – Exercise can help boost your body’s immune system and prevent an illness. 30 minutes of moderate exercise 3-4 times a week has been shown to raise T cell levels, which are one of the body’s first defences against infection.
However, intense exercise like that that professional athletes do has been shown to weaken the immune system.
To avoid getting sick after a hard workout, or any time for that matter:
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Wash hands regularly Manage stress levels
- Don’t smoke
- Sleep 7-8hrs a night
- Balance your workouts with rest time to avoid overtraining and fatigue.
Resources: abc.net.au, webmd.com