It’s getting into the colder months in Australia, which generally means the cold and flu season is about to hit. I often get asked from my community, if it’s okay to workout when sick? I know there is nothing more frustrating than being in full swing to your exercise program and then getting hit with sickness, whether it's the common fold, a full blown flu or some other horrible bug. However asking if you can workout when sick can be a bit like asking how long is a piece for string? It all really comes down to your symptoms, how you feel and the type of workout you want to do. I personally use the general rule of thumb that if my symptoms are just above the head (so runny nose, dry throat and sneezing) it’s still okay for moderate to gentle exercise. So nothing that’s going to leave me majorly sweating or huffing and puffing. It can be really hard for me to take a step back and not go to the gym but sometimes you just have to learn to listen to your body and rest up when needed.
If I can feel a cold coming on, but it’s not seriously bad symptoms I will just start with some gentle exercise, see how I feel after ten minutes and then either stop or keep going depending on how I feel. If you aren’t too sick and do the right exercise it can actually help your immune system. So if you do just have the common cold and feel like you could do some form of exercise then I recommend non-strenuous movement like:
- Gentle yoga (not the hot power kind)
- Gentle walking
- A gentle bike ride
- Tai Chi
However there are some definite signs and symptoms of when you should avoid any type of exercise:
- High fever
- Achy muscles
- Dry or wet cough
- Swollen glands
If you display any forms of those symptoms then you need to head straight to bed and rest up. It's important to give yourself the time to heal, sleep and stay hydrated. There is no point pushing yourself to only make yourself worse. It’s also important that when you are sick that you don’t spread your germs with those around you. So it’s not very nice to go to the gym when you are just going to make other people sick too. Once you have got over the worst symptoms and want to get back into your routine, always make sure you wash your hands properly and use a good quality hand sanitizer before touching communal gym equipment
Unfortunately getting sick is a part of life and we can’t be super human all the time. I generally know when I get sick (which isn’t often at all), it’s my bodies way of telling me I need to listen and slow down a little bit. Remember it’s okay to put your feet up sometimes and let your body heal. I’m also not a medical expert by any means so I always do advise to seek a medical professional opinion when you really are unsure.
If you do find yourself sick this winter then you can discover some of my favourite natural cold and flu remedies here.