Recently, the issue has come up about whether or not it is a good idea to work out while sick. Is it crazy to work out while ill? Is it bad for your health? Will it make you worse to train with a compromised immune system? To train, or not to train, that is the question.
We decided to look further in to the matter, as there are arguments for both working out and staying home and resting while sick. We are not health care professionals by any means, these are just simple conclusions drawn from personal research. All health care matters of any concern should be directed to your own Doctor. For us, three articles jumped out of some feverish internet research, (pun not intended,) and they all seemed to point in the same direction.
These are our findings, but if you are sick we urge you to consult your health care professional, and to do your own research, (just make sure it is well sourced.) You can read these articles with the links below, and they include the following:
An interview with an expert at Men’s Health Magazine
A piece on Exercise and the Immune System from Breakthru Fitness
An article on What to Do when Sick from Science Daily
The number one message we got from all these sources was to listen to your body! You know how bad or good you feel, and you need to treat your body accordingly. Even if you have a training session planned with a friend that you committed to ages ago, if you can’t stand up, or are vomiting up colours that have not been named yet, you should probably stay home…or maybe go to the hospital. On the milder end of that scale, if you are feeling extremely fatigued and like you need to rest, that may just be your body’s way of saying that you need to rest. You should also pay attention to any pre-existing health conditions you may have already, (such as diabetes or a heart condition,) as these could be affected by the illness you have.
Another message we got from these sources was that the type of illness you catch will determine whether or not you make it to the gym for your workout! The articles all said not to work out if your symptoms include fever, nausea, shortness of breath, chest trouble, or light headedness. Any non-expert would be able to say that these symptoms would inhibit someone from having any semblance of a workout anyways, so staying away from the gym is definitely a better option there. Your body has a limited amount of energy, like anything else, so sometimes it just needs to direct that energy to fighting whatever illness has taken root in your body, so the couch or the bed is the best place for you. However, nothing was said against going in to the gym with a light and manageable cold, and we have heard many people say that it helps!
There is something else to consider here though, because even the mildest colds are still contagious, and you have to be considerate of your fellow gym goers! Use your judgement, and again, listen to your body! Our research all said that it was important to take time to recover, and ease back in to your workout routine. Going 100% on your first day back could send you right back to that couch.
Perhaps the greatest advice we found on the Breakthru Fitness piece was to take care of your immune system in the first place. You won’t have to go through this whole, ‘do I or don’t I go to the gym’ debate if you never get sick in the first place!
Get enough sleep. Eat enough food. Eat enough good food. Monitor your stress levels. Wash your hands. These are basic health rules that are so easy to follow and that will help you for the rest of your life!