Thursday, January 24, 2013

Working Out While Sick?

It’s the middle of winter and this year’s cold and flu season has been one of the worst we’ve seen in a long time. Those of you who have managed to get through it without getting sick may have your workout routine to thank for that. Regular exercise boosts the immune system and helps reduce one’s chances of getting sick. But if you’ve been feeling under the weather, you will most likely have to alter your routine in some way. It can be tough to do, especially if you’ve started the year with renewed commitment. There are a few things to look out for when deciding what is best for you.

There’s a common rule that some people call the “neck check”. If symptoms are mild and above the neck, such as a scratchy throat, sneezing, or runny nose, then most people should be able to continue with some low intensity exercise. If symptoms below the neck present themselves, such as achy muscles, chills, fatigue, stomach problems, or cough and congestion, then it’s best to take a break from physical activity and rest until one is better. A fever should also never be ignored. Stay away from exercising until your temperature is back to normal. Exercising with a fever is dangerous because it can raise your body temperature even further.

If you only have a few mild symptoms and decide to hit the gym, keep in mind that it’s a public place. It’s always a good idea to wipe down equipment after use, but it is especially important when sick. Skip the gym altogether if you think you might be contagious.

These are only guidelines to help you decide whether or not to sideline yourself. It’s always best to consult with a doctor if there is any doubt. It’s also important to listen to your body and don’t overdo it. Decrease your workout intensity or completely rest if you feel it’s needed. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids.

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