It seems like a lot of people have been getting sick lately with the beginning of fall and the temperature change from warm to cold. For us fitties, that leaves us with the decision of -- should we workout when we're not feeling 100%?
Quick answer: It depends.
Exercise has proven to be a great preventative to getting sick. It has been shown to raise the body's immunity, which is your first defense against infection. It also helps to open up your lungs and air passage ways.
I know that for people like me, who feel like junk when they skip workouts, it can be really hard to take some extra rest, but in some cases, it is definitely for the best. And it will speed up your recovery so that you can get back to your regular workouts more quickly.
Do You Have a Fever?
If you have a fever, you should not workout. Elevating your body temperature when you are sick with a fever will only make you more sick. So, if your temperature is above 100, stay at home and rest. Drink lots of fluids (not alcohol), and take some over-the-counter ibuprofen to reduce your fever.
Are You Contagious?
If you feel like you're getting sick, and you might be contagious, try doing a home workout with weights instead of at the gym. You don't want to be blamed for getting everyone at the gym sick.
Are Your Symptoms Below the Neck?
If your symptoms are runny nose, sore throat, and congestion, you will be fine to workout. However, if your symptoms are deeper, like a chest cough, you should take it easy until those symptoms are gone.
Are You Experience Significant Fatigue?
Your body is smart. And it takes a lot of energy to fight infection. Listen to your body, if you're extremely fatigued, rest. You can get back up again when you have more energy. It won't be the end of the world if you miss a couple workouts.
Within 10 Min of Starting the Workout, How Do You Feel?
If you feel pretty okay, you don't have a fever, and your symptoms are above the neck, you can try to workout. It's a good rule of thumb to, within the first 10 minutes, check in with yourself to see how you're holding up. It's really important to pay attention to how you're feeling when you're sick. Respond to the way you feel. If you're exhausted quickly, maybe tone it down a bit -- walk instead of run, and don't try to max out.
How Long Should You Take Off?
If you have a fever, you should wait until that subsides. If you have below the neck symptoms, you should wait until those subside. As with all of the above questions, you kind of just have to be nice to yourself and play it by ear.
How to Be Courteous When You're Sick at the Gym
Be mindful that even if you're feeling okay enough to go to the gym, you don't want to be the person sneezing and germing up all of the equipment. Wash your hands a lot, and wipe down every weight that you use. Bring tissues with you if you need to (so that you're not sneezing into your hands and then putting your hands onto weights or onto the treadmill handles). Be conscientious of the people around you, and act in a way you would want a sick person to act if you were the unsick person at the gym that day.