During this time of year, even if you avoid the flu like the plague, it is hard to avoid running into headaches, clogged sinuses and increased fatigue. As we push past these times and get through the dead of winter and look forward to summer, it is easy to be left wondering – can I come into the gym when I’m sick? After all, summer bodies are built in the winter, right?
If your symptoms include sniffles, teary eyes and a sore throat you’re in luck: exercise is a good way to increase blood flow, relieve some pressure in your sinuses and have that much needed break from sitting in bed, loathing the body that has let you down. These symptoms are usually signs of the common cold and/or rhinovirus.
IT IS SAFE TO TRAIN WITH A COLD ONLY IF SYMPTOMS ARE ABOVE THE NECK.
If your symptoms include fever, sore throat, coughing, fatigue, body aches, headaches or nausea it is probably best to let your body rest and recover before heading back to the gym. These symptoms are generally more intense and flu-like. Any respiratory tract issue will only be irritated by the increased respiratory drive caused by exercise. Along the same line, if you start exercising with a fever, naturally you will drive that fever up higher and worsen your symptoms.
DO NOT TRAIN IF YOU HAVE INFLUENZA A OR B, PNEUMONIA OR ANY OTHER IRREGULAR RESPIRATORY SYMPTOMS BELOW THE NECK.
Above the neck, below the neck
Without having to speak to a healthcare practitioner and before you consult Dr. Google, you should use the general guideline of above the neck or below the neck. Symptoms of the body (including lungs) will not react well to increased metabolic stress, whereas symptoms of the head can actually be temporarily alleviated by light exercise, leaving the last question:
Ok… I can exercise, but what should I do?
The best thing to do is to consider your limitations – your aerobic fitness, muscle strength and energy levels will be limited, so you should try to lighten the load, no pun intended. Take the opportunity to get in your low intensity stead state (LISS) cardio, mobility/flexibility and technique work for your resistance training.
THE SAFEST OPTION: Come and see an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at our Edgecliff, Randwick, Lindfield, Marrickville locations.
Written by Mitchell Hooper