Should I exercise when I'm sick?
There is nothing worse, than having good momentum with your fitness journey, whether it be that you are enjoying the classes, seeing some results and improving with each and every day, and feeling great then, BAM, you struck down with an illness, commonly being the cold or flu.
And so the age old question continues to this day, of wondering if we should exercise when we are sick or not.
Will it make us better?
Will it make us worse?
Will it affect my performance?
Should I just push through?
Let's be honest, if there still isn't even a cure for the common cold, then exercise isn't going to cure you, so we can put the question of 'will it make me better' to rest. But wouldn't it be great if exercise was a cure for illness.... we could save on so many things like money, productivity and happiness just to name a few :)
Saying that however, Exercise may not be a cure for illness, it can definitely help with prevention to an extent. Exercising helps boost your immune system which is your body's natural defence system against the bugs in the environment. Regular exercise (at least 30 minutes a day), along with a healthy diet and plenty of water, will help keep the bugs away.
But the answer to the question of will it make it worse, can be true in some circumstances.
Fever is the limiting factor, says Lewis G. Maharam, MD, a New York City-based sports medicine expert. "The danger is exercising and raising your body temperature internally if you already have a fever, because that can make you even sicker." If you have a fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, sit this one out.
Maharam's rule of thumb for exercising when sick? "Do what you can do, and if you can't do it, then don't," he says. "Most people who are fit tend to feel worse if they stop their exercise, but if you have got a bad case of the flu and can't lift your head off the pillow, then chances are you won't want to go run around the block."
So know your own body limits. If you feel you can continue, try lowering the intensity of your workout, which could be a walk instead of a run, or a stretching/foam rolling/pilates/yoga instead of your HIIT class or weights session. BUT if you're bedridden with aching muscles and fever, then plenty of fluids, vitamins from fresh vegies, and rest is probably on the cards for a few days until you feel comfortable enough to get back into your routine.
So don't stress if you miss a workout or three due to you being struck down with illness. Once you are healthy and fighting fit again you will come back with determination to stay strong and healthy in your lifestyle.
On the other hand, you know your motivation level enough to know if a little sniffle is just an excuse not to exercise. If you find yourself looking for the little excuses to get out of working out, then talk to your trainer, partner, friend about maybe looking at different ways to keep you motivated with being active and healthy. There is no point forcing yourself to do something you don't like. I would never make someone come to me for a program, class, PT or anything if they weren't enjoying it. But I do encourage people to still get moving if they can, if the only thing holding them back is a blocked sinuses or runny nose :)
** Please see your Health Care Professional for any Medical diagnosis.
references: http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/exercising-when-sick (for Dr Lewis G Maharam)