Saturday, September 8, 2012

Should you Workout when You're "Sick"?

I've been on a regular 6-day-a-week workout schedule but this past week I faced a new challenge...I got a sinus infection and had to decide if I should keep working out or not. As cold and flu season is quick upon us, here are some pointers on when to workout and when to chill out.....

  • Do you have a fever? Do you have a cold with some congestion or are you running a fever? If you have a fever, going to the gym is a huge NO! You don't want to raise your core body temperature over 101, so if you are already in this range due to symptoms, then just stay home.
  • Are you short of breath or have bronchial tightness? Stay home if you are already having trouble breathing from your symptoms.
  • Can you get out of the bed? If you answered "no" to this, stay out of the gym!
  • Are your symptoms below the neck? If your symptoms are centered above the neck--sneezing, watery eyes, nasal congestion, or sore throat--it's ok to exercise. If your symptoms are below the neck--body aches, fatigue, chest congestion, or coughing--stay out of the gym until those symptoms resolve.
If you are going to continue to workout while sick, scale back on the types of exercising you are doing. For example, if you typically run, maybe just do a brisk walk until feeling better.

Exercising regularly can actually help build immunity. Try to stay healthy this cold/flu season by:
  • continuing to exercise
  • washing your hands frequently
  • use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when in public places
  • drinking plenty of water
If you do go to the gym while "sick", remember to wipe down any equipment you use or come into contact with, don't sneeze or cough without covering your nose and mouth, and wash your hands--lots! It can take up to two weeks for symptoms to be completely gone from your system. If you are put on antibiotics, it takes a full 24 hours for those to get into your system and start working.

So....what did I do this week?????? I started getting symptoms last Wednesday, which was just a sore throat. I worked out regularly on Wednesday night. On Thursday, my symptoms had progressed to sneezing, head congestion, a wet cough, and chills/body aches. I went to The Little Clinic Thursday night and was prescribed a Z-pak, which I started on Thursday. I stayed out of the gym on Thursday and Friday, due to a low-grade fever. I continued to take my antibiotic and push fluids. On Saturday morning, I was feeling some better so I went back to the gym. My antibiotics had been working for 48 hours by that point. At the gym on Saturday, I pushed lots of water while I did a "light" version of my normal workout. When I started getting winded, I stopped! I actually felt better after my workout and my breathing seemed to improve. I wiped all my equipment down thoroughly at the gym so others didn't have to get my "yuck". So make the right decisions for your situation, but remember not to let a few days away from the gym get you totally out of your routine!


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