If you’re already committed to an exercise program, good for you! Your motivation is where it should be, your dedication is allowing you to progress—but what happens when you get the flu, or cold? In order to stay fit and healthy, you need to know when and why skipping a workout when you’re sick is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself.
Monitor Your Energy Level
Be honest—did you wake up feeling like you just fell asleep, your brain is foggy, and you’re just not feeling like yourself? If your energy is down but your fever is up, exercising can only make it worse. Don’t push yourself if you honestly feel like you don’t have the energy to drive to the gym (let alone take a zumba class or treadmill run). Stay home and recoup if you have any of the following symptoms, as well:
• You have a cough that won’t stop. Exercising will only make your cough worse, and the longer you have a dry (or phlegm based) cough, the greater risk it becomes for turning into a URI (upper respiratory infection), which can be serious.
• You’re bundling up. Are you chilled, when everyone else is wearing t-shirts and shorts? That’s a clear sign that a fever may be on its way.
• You have a sniffling nose, plugged ears and a foggy brain. These are classic common cold symptoms (or a possible sinus infection), so steer clear of the gym. The number one reason why? Every time you blow your nose or cough you’re losing water, and fatigue can become a dangerous issue if you work out on top of it. Stay home and stay hydrated until you feel like yourself again.
You’re So Sore, You Can’t Move
While this type of pain isn’t similar to the common cold, the flu or an upper respiratory infection which robs you of the energy and physical stamina required for exercise, acute pain needs to be monitored carefully. If you head to the gym (while exhibiting any of the following symptoms), you could push yourself back:
• Touching your muscles is very painful;
• The last thing you feel like doing is exercising, because the thought of moving your muscles makes you cringe;
• Your range of motion is extremely limited;
Don’t push yourself if you are in such pain that it hurts to walk. Because soreness can often become exaggerated the second day of rest (due to inflammation), your body is giving you a crystal clear sign to rest and repair. Enjoy a nightly bubble bath, treat yourself to a massage, consume anti-inflammatories such as turmeric, tart cherry juice, watermelon juice and ginger for some relief. Studies have even shown aspirin and ibuprofen to provide relief, when following the directions and doctor’s orders. If the pain persists beyond 72 hours, consult your doctor.