As the flu and common cold season is upon us, we will all more than likely have to deal with some kind of illness throughout the year. At this time of year, it’s a struggle to stay healthy and germ free. Fighting the common cold and flu can be a huge setback for some; especially when it comes to staying fit. One of the toughest decisions is to figure out if you should continue to exercise or take a few days off.
Dealing with sickness is a struggle for people who have just started new exercise programs and have finally been able to adapt to their new healthy lifestyles. People often wonder if this setback of a few days off will completely ruin their progress. Will this time off make them lose focus? Will it cause them to fall back into the sedentary lifestyle they once lived? They fear not being able to get back on track. As many of us know, this tiny setback will not alter your goals or destroy everything you have worked for. Often times, it is Mother Nature that may cause you to lose a few workouts. When your illness subsides, you will be able to get right back into the swing of things. People who exercise regularly feel worse if they miss a few workouts for an extended amount of time. This is not uncommon. Your main goal is to stay as healthy as possible so that you can resume your normal daily activities.
The first hint of advice is to always assess how you feel. Everyone has different thresholds of what they can and cannot do when battling illnesses. Exercising with a cold is ok, but if you are battling a fever then you should definitely stop and re-evaluate the situation. The fact that you are dealing with a fever is the final deciding factor. If you present a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, you definitely need to take a break from your physical activities. If you continue to exercise with a fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, you run the risk of worsening the situation. When exercising, you force your body to perspire and lose water; which is harmless to a healthy body. Exercising with a fever causes the internal temperature of your body to rise; causing the risk of becoming dehydrated. Maintaining your bodily fluids is very crucial normally, and even more important when sick.
Many medical experts have narrowed it down on how to perform a self-check on yourself and decide if you should continue exercising or not. The “Neck-Check” is the way to determine your level of activity during an illness. If the symptoms are “above” the neck and include: sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing and tearing eyes, then you are still given the green light to workout. If you are taking medications for your sickness and are feeling ok, then it again is advised to continue to exercise. Just always look out for that fever. If your symptoms are “below” the neck such as: coughing, body aches, fatigue, upset stomach, chest congestion, respiratory illness, bronchial tightness, or full body muscle aches, then it is considered unsafe to continue on with your exercise program. Other symptoms to look out for are dizziness, weakness and nausea. These symptoms should be treated immediately, and are important signs for ceasing your workouts.
Working in a hospital setting leaves me open to all sorts of germs and illnesses. The #1 and most important defense we can all take to limiting our exposure to germs is to wash our hands. If you are surrounded by people who are sick, try to limit your exposure time around them. When you are sick, have the common courtesy to refrain from some of your normal hangouts, so that you do not continue to contaminate others. You can spread your illness through sneezing and coughing. Always wipe off and clean the gym equipment you use, so you can once again limit the exposure and cut down on spreading these germs to other people.
All in all, we are all going to become sick at some time in our lives. We just have to be smart about the way that we deal with these illnesses. Always know your limits. Do what you can do when sick, and be happy with that. You will be back full strength soon enough. Try not to cause any more damage to yourself. You can always knock down the intensity of your workouts to balance out how you feel that day. Try walking if you cannot complete your running. Try lighter weights instead of lifting heavy. As long as you are showing up to the gym and giving an honest effort, you should be happy with that. Just adapt to your limitations. If you have a cold and feel miserable, then take a break. There is no shame in missing a workout because you are feeling under the weather. Exercising can help you feel better in many ways, but can also have a negative impact on you and your life when sick. There are many pro’s and con’s when it comes to exercising when sick; just be aware of what symptoms are presenting themselves to you. Having the knowledge and education of how to deal with sicknesses is a blessing in disguise. This knowledge can help you get back to the gym quicker, and can also keep you out of the doctor’s office as well. Last but not least, always check with your physician if you have any questions whatsoever on exercising when sick. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Stay healthy everyone!
…Stay Strong, Stay True.
About the Author
Michael Klamut was the 2011 Lean Body Challenge Grand Champion. Mike is a United States Air Force veteran (1997-2001) who works as a Radiologic Technologist (X-Ray Tech) during the day, and is a busy husband and father of two during the night. Mike entered his first bodybuilding competition and took 1st place in his Novice weight class (Middleweight) and Novice Overall. He takes great pride in helping others with their fitness goals and hopes to inspire and motivate everyone he comes into contact with. Mike is looking forward to helping all Labrada Nutrition fans reach their personal goal(s) and hopes to help them conquer any obstacle(s) that stands in their way. You can visit Mike Klamut’s website at: http://michaelklamut.wix.com/klamutfitness