I caught a bit of a cold while on vacation. The last full day in Seattle, my throat started getting scratchy. As we landed in Charlotte the next day I was willing myself to get better because I had convinced myself it was just allergies. But that didn’t happen.
Coming home from a cruise, the last thing I wanted to do was lie around sick. I did the true experience of a cruise, which meant I had much more food that I normally would (though we never did go to the late night dessert buffet) and exercised less than I normally would (though I did use both the ship and hotel gyms). I felt bloated and yucky. And adding a cold on to that did not help!
There is a loose rule when it comes to exercising when sick. Number one rule – if you are contagious, don’t go to a gym and get others infected. That’s just courtesy.
But if you are not so sick that you are actually debating exercising (meaning you have enough energy to go through your daily responsibilities, are not visiting the bathroom frequently – you know what I mean, and are not gasping for breath in between coughing fits), then you can follow these 2 rules.
RULE NUMBER 1:
If your symptoms involve your stomach or digestive tract, do not work out. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that.
RULE NUMBER 2:
If your symptoms involve the head, neck and chest, and you feel like giving exercise a try – do some light exercise (think warm up pace – or even a bit lighter), for about 5 minutes. If your symptoms worsen, stop exercising. Your body is not ready for exercise yet. If you do not have an increase in symptoms, then you may continue exercising. Sometimes when I have allergies or a mild cold, my symptoms actually improve while exercising. But, no matter how good you feel, do not overdo it. Always work out at a lower intensity than normal. You are still sick and your body needs to recover and heal. If you work out too hard, you can prolong your illness.
So, I followed my own rules to get my exercise in this past week.
Day 1 back from vacation I went to an indoor cycle class and kept my resistance much lower than normal. (This class is in late afternoon so it’s never crowded and I was able to get a bike well away from everyone else to avoid spreading my germs. If it was a packed class – I would have skipped it)
Day 2 – Strength training at home. I did a total body strength DVD at home with my 6 and 10 pound weights.
Day 3 – PiYo. I had an early morning meeting for work and I was pretty tired and felt my body needed to relax. So I grabbed my PiYo DVD and had a great low impact workout.
Day 4 – Cardio at Home. Another DVD and another sweaty and great workout. My intensity did increase because I’m now feeling much better, just a little bit of a nagging cough.
On Day 5 – I’m hoping this little bit of a cough will dissipate in time for me to attend my favorite cycle class. It’s a tough class so I will definitely take it at a lower RPM and resistance than instructed, but I’m excited to get back to this class!
So if you have a mild illness, you can still exercise safely. This is not the time to try to improve your running speed, increase your cycling distance or increase your weight with squats though. Think of it as a recovery week – and exercise at a lighter intensity. You will get to move, and still let your body heal.