I’ve done workouts when sick before, and they made me feel quite a bit better, so I just kept to them. It makes me feel like life is worth living beyond the cold! But is this a good idea? Should I “walk it off” or should I take to the couch and “let my body heal”? The “common sense” of things seems to contradict itself, so I thought I would address the major issues I find myself concerned with when I have to confront this issue.
First of all, I need no research to tell me that if you’re sick, stay out of the gym. Don’t go exposing yourself to congested public places, and the people in those places to your cold, if you don’t need to. This is just politeness. Ever catch a cold and, wondering how you got it, remembered that sick dude at work, school, or the gym and think to yourself, “Why didn’t they just stay home a day or two?” I work out at home, so this is never an issue for me.
To be blunt, you should never do some crazy, exhausting workout if you are suffering from a cold. You should, at the very least, pull back a little. Focus on some light cardio, or reduce your weights some if you are circuit training. Take it easy. But, the good new is you don’t have to stop working out, just because you’re stuffed up! That’s right, you have no excuse! A lot of people use a little head cold as an excuse to “take a break” from their routine, and never get back into it. This is just a way out for the uncommitted. The truth of the matter is, working out dilates the blood vessels and helps clear congestion, so it will make you feel better, but research shows that working out will not speedy the recovery process. It just makes it a bit more bearable. Likewise, the cold will not affect your ability to work out, it will just make it a bit less bearable! Just don’t take it to far, working out too hard will prolong any cold.
While it’s never a good idea just to stop working out because of an injury or head cold, but better to find a way to work around your injury or illness, there are some situations when you should just put a pause to your routine. Let’s look at these:
- As far as the common cold/flu symptoms go, do the neck check! If your symptoms are above the neck only, then just continue on as described above and be happy. But, if your symptoms are below the neck (ie,nausea) then you need to take a break, and let your body heal itself. In other words, if it’s just stuffiness and a runny nose, you’re good to go.
- If you have a fever of any degree, stop working out. You are going to do nothing more than stress out your immune system and make matters worse, and this could even lead to myocarditis (inflammation of the heart).
- If you have any sort of “body aches”, including a headache., stop working out.
- Lung congestion, hacking cough? No work out for you, my friend. Take a break, and let your lungs fight the battle.
- If you experience any fatigue, listen to your body and rest. Don’t feel guilty for not working out here, you are tired because your immune system is burning all of your calories working overtime to fight that virus. Let it!
Naturally, you’re getting your rest and remembering to meet your nutrition/hydration needs, and before long, you’re feeling you’re over the hump of the cold’s course. Keep to these rules as a good measure until it’s out of you entirely, if you need to do something, go for a calm walk, or do a stretch. Finally, after you’ve followed these rules, and you’re feeling over your cold, don’t go full tilt back into your routine, take it easy at first, and build back up into it!
Aside from these rules, you know you need to give your body a break form your routine every eight to twelve weeks: if you work your body too hard, you will make yourself sick. For all you p90x people out there, this means that you really should take a week off between every round you do! Not every phase, every round. The phases of p90x already have recovery weeks built in, so pay attention to them and also make use of that day of stretching and rest every week!
Follow these rules when you’re sick, and when you’re not: Eat well, get your vitamins, exercise regularly and if you train hard let your body get a break now and then, and maybe you’ll save yourself from the need to do the “neck check” altogether!