Should You Workout when You are Sick?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Should you workout when your not feeling great?

That depends.

I’ve heard it said that you can workout and exercise your way through or around a cold or an illness.  We need to be careful with this approach as it can backfire and your time sweating can be 2-3 times as hard as it normally is and can use up the energy your body needed to fight an illness doing push ups.  This can then lead to days and possibly weeks missed of exercise which sets you back even further.

Here’s my take:

If you have a fever or headache, I would say, take care of your body with fluids and rest. In this case exercise can make things worse.

If you are feeling something coming on, or getting over something, it is dependent on how you feel. Getting a sweat going and exercise to move the blood through your body can be a great way to flush any toxins and garbage out and can build up your immune response.

Something to remember in September as the kids head back to the germ war zone of school and co-workers gather together again for work place routines!

Some exercises that are safe for when feeling under the weather:

  • Stretching – Lengthening your muscles and increasing blood flow without massive exertion, is a positive way to get your body moving.
  • Walking – the most basic way to move is a great way to get the blood flowing without over-exerting yourself.  You can vary the speed and also the surroundings in which you walk to increase or decrease difficulty accordingly. Walks can be leisurely or challenging which is the beauty of this exercise for matching up with the stage or severity of your particular illness.
  • Light jogging – this is is dependent on how you are feeling.  Quite often its the ‘shock’ and jarring motion of jogging that can flare up head and body illness symptoms, but if in the wrong context of your illness, it can just simply be unpleasant.  We are all about pushing yourself, but if you are plain and simply miserable, then its not worth it.

Avoid exercises that require massive amounts of  ‘strength’ or heavy weights, these can require moments of tightness and tension with major exertions in your neck and head that when sick can cause muscle cramping that can haunt you for weeks to come with pulled or knotted muscles if your body is fighting something.

Generally you are ok to exercise if your signs and symptons are “above the neck”.  This includes colds, runny nose, nasal congestion.

Generally You are NOT OK to exercise if you have symptions that are “below the neck”.  These would include nausea or stomach issues, diarrhea (which can lead to dehydration problems that exercise can make much worse), or chesty coughs.  Fevers as mentioned above is a big red flag to take it easy.

You can also reduce the intensity and duration of your exercise and increase it as you start to feel better.  Remember rest and recovery is part of proper training and this includes when your body overall is not at its best including illness.

Patience when I am sick is a tough one for me, but its easier to get through ‘resting’ if it means I can get back on the treadmill quicker.


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