“Feed a cold. Starve a fever.” But what the old adage fails to mention is what to do about working out. To exercise or not to exercise is often the question when you start to feel rundown, get a scratchy throat, or an upset stomach. Skipping the gym to grab some zzzs may be just what you need. However, if you’re in a groove with a workout routine that is working well for you, taking a break may have you in fear of falling off track.
Give Yourself a Break
Sick or not, it’s important to remind yourself of how strong you are–mentally and physically. If you’ve been able to stick to a fat loss program so far, a day or two away from your normal schedule isn’t going to completely reverse your efforts. In fact, if you decide to forge ahead thinking that you can just work through the symptoms, you could be putting yourself out longer than had you taken a short break from the start.
Why? Well, when you get sick, your immune system needs to be in fighting shape to battle anything that ails you. The same is true when you workout. Muscle soreness comes from your muscle tissues breaking down so that they can be rebuilt to be stronger. If you do the two at the same time, your immune system is weakened and is likely to lose the fight against an illness. What started as “just a head cold” could turn into a bronchial infection all because your body didn’t have the oomph it needs to keep the bad guys at bay.
Know Your Limits
If you still want to get a workout in, give your symptoms a once over before lacing up your sneakers. A WebMD expert recommends doing a “neck check.” Symptoms above the neck–sneezing, tearing eyes, congestion–might be OK to keep moving. Symptoms below the neck–coughing, body aches, and fatigue–mean you should give it a rest. If you have a fever, you’re definitely in need of some recouping.
Scale Back a Bit
If you’re convinced that your symptoms are minor and you want to keep working out, do so at a slower pace. If you usually run, try a fast walk. If you love to strength train, switch from heavy weights with fewer reps to lighter weights with more reps.
If you decide to do your normal routine, be sure to listen to your body. If you just don’t seem to have the same stamina as usual, or if your breathing feels labored, take things down a notch or hang it up for the day and head to bed.
Exercise Might Help
Restorative exercises, such as yoga and tai chi, could be just what the doctor ordered when you’re sick and want to exercise. Choose classes that are slower moving, such as a Yin yoga class, which is focused on supported stretches held for longer periods of time. A slow hot yoga class could be a great way to help sweat out the toxins in your body without having to get your heart rate up high. Be sure to drink lots of water during and following to avoid dehydration.
While it’s best to take a break when your body seems in need for one, it doesn’t mean your workout days are numbered when symptoms set in. Just remember that doctors orders means being fitness free when you have a fever, and keeping your symptoms in check before embarking on your exercise. If you workout in a class or group atmosphere, keep other people’s health in mind as well. Sweating in public places is an easy way to share illnesses that others don’t want. Don’t make people around you sacrifice their workouts simply because you wouldn’t sacrifice yours.
What’s your go to health remedy? Tell us in the comments!