Scratchy, sore throat. Stuffy, runny nose. Nasty little cough. All wonderful descriptions of my last 4 or 5 days. I have been feeling a little under the weather with a wonderful little welcome-to-fall cold. Lucky me.
So what does this do to my workout schedule? What should you do when you are feeling a little under the weather?
Some people say that “sweating it out” will help them feel better or recover faster. While psychologically it may feel like that, that is not always the case. In some cases it may make things work.
Here are some tips for working out when sick:
1. Follow this general rule: if it is a sickness above the neck (head cold, runny nose, sneezing, etc) you should be in the clear to workout. If it is below the neck (chest, flu, etc) take it easy or take a day off.
2. If you have a fever DO NOT GO TO THE GYM! DO NOT WORKOUT! Do your body a favor and take a nap instead. When you workout, your body temperature rises. When you have a fever, your body temperature is already elevated. The workout is going to raise that temperature even more and could actually be very harmful. I repeat: IF YOU HAVE A FEVER REST!
3. If you have a head cold (i.e. stuffy nose, cough, sneezing) feel free to workout if you feel well enough. It may make you feel better, you never know.
4. If you have the flu or a cold that goes well into your chest (like bronchitis) you may want to take it easy or take a day off. Working out may make things worse.
5. If you aren’t feeling well but really want to get a workout, in consider a lighter, more recovery-based workout. If you are a runner, consider walking. Or try out yoga or Pilates. Taking it easy may help the recovery process.
6. Last, and most importantly: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! If you feel you are up for a workout, go ahead and give it a try. If halfway through you feel like you need to stop, STOP. It is not worth making yourself worse and being laid up for even longer. There is no shame in taking off a day or two.
Being sick stinks, but it doesn’t have to completely ruin your fitness goals. Listen to your body and do what you can. The human body is an amazing thing, take care of it and you’ll be feeling better in no time!