Every year, come fall and winter, y’all always ask me…”Should I still work out when I am sick?”
There’s nothing worse than being on a great workout streak, only to be derailed by a cold or the flu. It’s hard to know what to do because your mind says “GYM” but your body says “stay in bed and binge watch ‘Unreal’ on Hulu. (Ugh so good btw, you guys should watch it! Kinda raunchy but really, really addicting! It’s about how a reality TV is actually made and all the drama that happens OFF SCREEN!)
Could it be a bad thing to work out when you’re sick? Could it make you sick for longer? Or should you try sweating it out?
Turns out, there’s a little science on this and it involves your immune response to light vs. heavy exercise, and the type of illness you have.
First off, your body will give you signals on whether or not exercise is even possible, or a good idea, when you’re sick. Obviously if you’ve got a fever, are throwing up, have diarrhea or body aches, it’s not a good idea to hit the gym or go for a run, because physically, your body is fighting an infection or virus pretty seriously. It’s also not that nice to spread those kinds of germs around a public place! Any time your body is in a weakened state, it’s best to rest, eat a bland diet and return to a strengthened state before working out; it can cause further problems if you ignore your body’s clear signals! Fortunately, people don’t come down with the flu as frequently as the common cold, so it really is okay to take the week off to let yourself fully heal since it only happens once a year, at most.
So what about the more frequent common cold? The sore throats, runny noses, coughs and congestion? It’s always best to let your body be your guide! You must learn this! YOU ARE YOUR BEST DOCTOR.
If every bone in your body is begging you to stay home, listen!!! But if you’re on the fence and just mildly uncomfortable the best advice is to get a bit of a sweat on!
Notice I said, ‘a bit.’
The amount and vigor matter, because intense workouts signal a stress response in the body. When you’re healthy, your body adapts! That’s what makes you faster, stronger and able to handle more the longer you train. When you’re sick, a strenuous workout can be a little too much for your body to handle without becoming exhausted, and making your cold even worse, or last longer.
Your immune system is what fights off colds, so stressing it out doesn’t, ‘sweat it out,’ it simply makes your body work harder to recover from both the workout and the cold. The perfect workout is something you enjoy doing that gets your heart rate up a little, but not too high. You want to feel invigorated afterwards, not totally spent!
So POP Pilates = good choice.
PIIT28 = not so much (until you’re feeling better).
The most recommended exercises when you have a cold are:
- Yoga or Pilates
- Bike Riding or Self-Paced Cycling
- Light Weight, High Rep Circuit Training
- StairMaster (on a light setting)
Try these slow and relaxing videos if you’re at home:
Stay well my lovelies!