Gym Tips

Are You Too Sick to Workout?

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I’m usually a die hard gym girl, I never miss a sweat session, but on the 4th of July I got so sick that I took an entire week off.  I typically push through a workout when I am sick, but this little virus kicked my butt into surrendering.  As you can tell by the pic, I decided to lay on the bench and rest while my workout partner did her thing.  Now 3 weeks later, I am finally just recovered enough to write this post as I have been struggling just to make it through day to day life.  I have never been this run down for so long; I think it was just a culmination of months of stress combined with the nasty germs my kids brought home, since they were sick first.

So how do I decide whether to push through or pump on the brakes?

My first decision on whether to workout or not depends on where my symptoms are localized.  I generally play by the rule that if my symptoms are above the neck I’m good to go, but if they are below the neck I take a break.  So if I have a mild cold with sneezing, sore throat, or runny nose I push through.  If the symptoms are below the neck: dry cough, stomach bug, body aches, etc. I am more likely to take off.  If I have a fever, I definitely take the day off!  You get a fever when your body is working hard to fight off whatever you have, so I just let it do its job.

When you get a cold you can be contagious for quite a while, so don’t infect the whole gym, do a home workout.  Scale the intensity to a low to moderate level, just enough to keep moving.  Think of it as an active recovery day.  Remaining active with a minor cold will promote better immune function and may help you sleep better, causing you to get healthier faster.  The key is to listen to your body.  Sometimes, I will skip the weights with a cold and shoot for a relaxing, deep stretch yoga session.

If you are seriously sick, just take off!  When you have a fever your body is already stressed out, so adding the stress of a workout is just not a good idea.  It leads to further breakdown which means even more time out of the gym.  Breathing is kind of important, so if you can’t, your workout is going to suck anyways.  Let your lungs recover so you don’t have to roll around on the floor trying to catch your breath after a coughing fit in the middle of your HIIT session.  When it comes to a stomach bug, not only is running to the bathroom in the middle of a set of squats going to ruin your mojo, it is also way too easy to get dehydrated.  You are already losing everything you have which ever way it is coming out, but sweating during your workout is just going to cause you to lose more fluids and electrolytes.

In the end, it is up to you whether you should hit the gym or not.  I have to admit that there have been MANY times I pushed through when I probably shouldn’t have.  Listen to your body and make the right decision for you!


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