We all know the feeling…one moment you’ve got a little tickle in your throat and a few sneezes here and there, and then, BAM! Your nose looks like Rudolph and you’re carrying a box of tissues everywhere you go. There is no question that cold and flu season is upon us, and rampant at that. So what should your gym routine look like when you are sick? Should you go hard or go home?
“Achoo! Sniff, Sniff.”
Should you change your routine when you feel a cold or the flu coming on?
It doesn’t take much to know that you’re getting sick, so it is important to take preventive measures to ensure that you are keeping your body healthy. At the first signs of an illness, you should pay attention to the way your workout makes you feel. If it makes you feel worse or causes abnormal fatigue, you should think about taking it easy for a day or two. Furthermore, make sure to get plenty of rest and fluids and consider researching the benefits of zinc and vitamin C supplements to prevent worsening symptoms.
“I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.”
Should you change your routine in the midst of a cold or the flu?
The general rule of thumb for exercising with an illness is that it is okay to proceed with symptoms above the neck, such as a runny nose, sneezing, headache, and sore throat. Notice the word EXERCISE. This does not mean that you have to have an intense lifting session or tough out a boxing class. When not feeling well, your body can benefit from exercising at lower intensities and shorter durations. Consider activities like walking, yoga, jogging, swimming, or biking and stay away from intense strength or endurance training, HIIT, and team sports. Once again, pay attention to how your workout is making you feel and take it easy if your body doesn’t respond well. If your symptoms are below the neck, like the flu, stomach issues, or cough...STAY HOME. Not only will you be risking the health of everybody else in the gym, but you could prolong your recovery time by exercising when you have these symptoms. And no matter what your symptoms are, please be courteous by washing your hands and wiping down your equipment really well!
“Finally, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel..”
When is it okay to start exercising again after an illness?
It may take some time for you to start feeling up to exercising again, so make sure to be smart about resuming your normal routine. You should ease back into things after taking some time off and work your way up to your normal intensity. If you were sick for three days, consider a three day window for building back up to where you left off. The longer you were sick, the longer it may take for you to be back at your best. Try not to jump back into things too quickly or you run the risk of prolonging the recovery period even more.
Being sick can dampen your workout routine, but it is important to take necessary measures to keep yourself and those around you well. So the next time you feel that little sniffle come along, consider whether it would be more worth it to go hard or go home.