We are getting into the winter months, which generally means the cold and flu season is on its way. I often get asked if it’s okay to exercise when sick? I know there is nothing more frustrating than enjoying your exercise programme, getting results and then getting ill, whether it’s a common cold, full blown flu or another horrible bug.
Asking if you can exercise when sick can be a bit like asking how long is a piece for string? It all really comes down to your symptoms, how you feel and the type of exercise you want to do.
I personally use the general rule of thumb that if my symptoms are just above the head (so runny nose, sore throat or sneezing) it’s still okay for moderate to gentle exercise. Take it easier than normal and do nothing that’s going to be too tiring. Personally, I find it hard to take a step back and not go to the gym or run but sometimes you just have to learn to listen to your body and rest up when needed.
If I can feel a cold coming on, but the symptoms aren’t too bad I will just start with some gentle exercise, see how I feel after ten minutes and then either stop or keep going depending on how I feel. If you aren’t too sick and do the right exercise it can actually help your immune system. So if you do just have a common cold and feel like you could do some form of exercise then do just, just far easier than normal.
However, there are some definite signs and symptoms of when you should avoid any type of exercise (usually ‘below the neck’ symptoms): – High temperature – Achy muscles (not your usual post-workout type of aches) – Chesty cough – Swollen glands – Vomiting – Diarrhea
If you display any forms of those symptoms, then you need to rest. It’s more important to give yourself the time to heal, sleep and stay hydrated. There is no point pushing yourself to only make yourself worse. It’s also important that when you are sick that you don’t spread your germs to those around you (you wouldn’t want them to do it to you).
Once you have got over the worst of your symptoms and want to get back into your routine, always make sure you start with an easier workout to make sure you are fully over whatever you had. Going too hard too quickly can sometimes lead to a reoccurrence of your symptoms.
Unfortunately getting sick is a part of life and we can’t be super human all the time. I generally know when I get sick (which isn’t often at all nowadays), it’s my body’s way of telling me I need to listen and slow down a little bit.
Remember it’s okay to put your feet up sometimes and let your body heal. It is better to have a couple of days off to fight off an illness instead of battling through regardless and missing a month when you make it worse. Be sensible.
I’m also not a medical expert by any means so I always advise to seek professional medical advice when you really are unsure or symptoms persist.
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