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Treadmills or Tissues

PostedAugust 11, 2015

When is it acceptable to cheat on your fitness routine with a bowl of chicken soup in your pyjamas? Are you too sick to work out? You’ve been so great about your new exercise program, rarely missing a day, and then all of a sudden… The common cold or flu affects all of us from time to time, making it hard to decide whether to hit the gym or the couch.

So, before collecting your get-out-of-gym-free card, or continuing with your exercise regime, take a moment to read this:

Exercise can help to boost your body’s natural defenses against illness and infection. Thirty minutes of regular exercise three to four times a week has been shown to raise immunity by raising levels of T- cells which are one of the body’s first defenses against infection. Exercise may even help you to feel better by opening your nasal passages and temporarily relieving nasal congestion.

However, intense 90 minute training sessions, can actually lower immunity.
A sore throat, achy muscles and a runny nose can make you miserable, but if you still have the energy to exercise, should you? According to Neil Schachter, MD of respiratory care at Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York, it’s okay to exercise if your symptoms are above the neck. This includes a sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing and tearing eyes. If your symptoms are below the neck such as coughing, body aches, fever and fatigue; it’s time to hang up your running shoes until these symptoms subside.

Remember that exercising while having a fever is a definite no-no. Exercise raises your body temperature internally and if you already have a fever it will make your condition worse.
For how long will you be side-lined? An uncomplicated cold in an adult should be gone in about seven days. A flu that develops complications such as bronchitis or sinusitis can last for up to two weeks. The symptoms of cough and congestion can linger for weeks if not treated. In general, the flu, if uncomplicated can make you feel pretty rotten for up to two weeks. Healthy living during this time is key. Drink plenty of fluids, eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as lean meat.

Change your regular workout routine if you begin to feel worse after a workout. Cut back on exercise by reducing your effort to 50% of your normal capacity, or take a few days off. Walk for 15 minutes instead of running for 30 minutes. Do one set of lifting, instead of five. Keep the above-the-neck rule in mind.

If you’re pretty sure that you’re coming down with something, consider doing your workout at home. There is a reason why your gym contract does not include the “in sickness and in health” clause! It’s a courtesy thing. You wouldn’t want people getting you sick, so return the favour! Do a workout video at home or go for a walk in the fresh air.

Listen to your body. There’s no benefit to a heart pumping, calorie burning workout if your organs and tissues are depleted of their energy. If your heart’s not into it – if you just can’t “get into” the workout, it’s probably not the best idea to push it. But on the other hand, if you simply feel a little crummy, a mild workout could speed up your recovery dramatically. Check with your doctor if you’re not sure whether to resume your exercise routine.


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.