Every year in February I seem to get sick – nothing insane, but an annoying, dragging cold that pretty much just sucks. Such is the case right now. And, because I hear so many people using being sick as a reason to skip the gym, I thought I’d capitalize on it as this week’s topic.
Last week’s blog was about when skipping a workout is totally acceptable. So, naturally, you see the title about “getting sick” and you probably think this is an extension of that – quite the opposite.
I know that we’ve all been there… you’re having a stressful day at the office and have been trying to rationalize skipping the gym after work that day when BOOM, you feel like you’re getting sick. Aha, you say! I’m getting sick! I’d better rest and recuperate! Nope.
As tempting as it is to use not feeling 100 percent as a viable reason for skipping the gym and heading straight to the couch for Netflix & Chill, being or getting sick isn’t a reason to miss a workout. Not only isn’t it a reason to miss one – there’s research to show that a working out during a time like this is a particularly good thing to do.
It all hinges on the “above-the-neck rule.” As the name would hint, if your illness/symptoms are above the neck (stuffiness, runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, watery eyes, etc.), then you’re OK to exercise. If they’re below the neck (coughing, body aches, fever, fatigue, dizziness, etc.), then you should stick to the couch. For the majority of us who are lucky (and healthy) enough to only get a cold every year, then we’re usually in the above-the-neck category.
To be honest, on day one I usually feel pretty crummy. It’s a pretty big struggle to get into the gym on that first day. That was yesterday for me. But, I went anyway! I actually ended up having one of my best leg workouts in a while. I listened to my body, didn’t start with squats and stuck to a four-(instead of five) exercise lift.
After doing a little bit of research for today’s topic, it turns out that it’s no coincidence that I had such a good lift. Apparently there’s a side-effect of our body fighting the virus inside of us that works in our fitness favor. The toxin-and microorganism-fighting antibodies in our systems are strength enhancers, especially at the early stages of illness.
Even if you’re not considering your fitness goals at a time like this, it’s a typical doctor’s recommendation that you get light-to-moderate exercise in the beginning phases of above-the-neck illnesses and moderate exercises for the duration of the illnesses. Exercise can help get the toxins out of your body, relieve congestion and shorten the duration of a common cold. I’ve found, personally, that working out is sometimes the only time I’m able to breathe without any congestion while I’m sick. Talk about a bonus.
Now, of course, there are some considerations to take into account. If you have the flu, sit your ass in bed. Only time, meds and proper nutrition will help you through that mess. And if your cold moves south and settles in as a fun chest issue, then you’ll need some hefty meds to help you get your breathing back to normal. If you need more info on why breathing properly during a workout is important – check out my blog entry about why waist trainers are absurd.
Another thing to take into account is the fact that you’re probably pretty contagious. This is the time to wipe down your equipment extra carefully so you don’t give your fellow gymgoers your bug.
So, I’m sorry to say getting a cold isn’t an out from the gym for a week, but the bright side is you have an excuse to make yourself a hot Toddy every night before bed. Some even say it’s the only sure bet for a good night’s sleep while sick! Bottoms up.