When you are deep into a regular fitness regime and killing it, being struck by sickness can be absolutely devastating. At KUT we offer a 9-week intensive training program for people of all ages, and nothing can be more frustrating for a student when their hard work and motivation is interrupted by bouts of cold and flu. So what’s the lowdown on working out while sick?
In general, exercising is not recommended when you aren’t feeling well – as your immune system tries to fight the sickness and your body tries to recuperate, exerting yourself by exercising can make your illness a whole lot worse. However, exceptions to the rule do exist.
Experts recommend you use the neck rule to make a final decision on whether or not you should break a sweat when you’re sick. If your symptoms are above the neck, like a head cold or a minor sore throat, it is okay to exercise – ease into your regime and see how you feel. If the exercise isn’t making you feel worse, you can proceed with a lighter-than-usual workout. However, if your symptoms are below the neck, like a fever or a bad cough, it is recommended that you sit this one out, and give your body a chance to recover.
If you are in the middle of a workout, and starting to feel sick, use the 10-minute rule to determine whether you should continue or ease off. 10 minutes into your workout, stop, and evaluate how you feel. Do you feel sicker? Any symptoms of fatigue or a general ill feeling? If so, end your workout then and there, and get some rest. If not, you can carry on.
Post-sickness, it can be hard to decide when to resume your fitness regime. While you’re the best judge of how soon and how much your body can take, in general it is best to wait 1-2 weeks before exercising if you’ve been down with a minor illness like a cold, and 2-3 weeks if you’ve had something more severe, like influenza or pneumonia.
Having to decide what to do about your fitness goals when you are sick can be a pain – on one hand, you need to let your body rest and recover, but in doing so, you’ll lose precious days and maybe even some of the progress you’ve made! In addition, it’s only polite to avoid working out in a group when you’re sick, because you risk passing your illness on to others. Your results are your responsibility and so is your health!
To avoid falling into this situation altogether, try staying healthy and keeping your immune system strong enough to resist sickness. Eat a balanced diet containing a wide range of vegetables, fruits, proteins and fats, and get plenty of Vitamins A, B6, D, and Zinc, to boost your immune system. With a little bit of attention to all the right aspects, you can make sure sickness doesn’t interfere with your fitness program!