When you are sick: sweat it out or sit it out?

I have always been a firm believer in nothing but rest when I get sick.  As much as I love a good workout, I would not push my body to work while I am sick.  This weekend, I had a lot of head congestion, between my nose and sinuses.  I haven’t worked out since Friday because of this, but I decided to look into this a little more to see if I was actually right and I was surprised by my research! sickWorking out while you are sick can be okay!  There are some precautions, however.  It is only okay to work out if your symptoms are above the neck.  If you have a stuffy nose like I do, a light workout can actually help open the airways and relieve congestion.  If you are feeling achy in your muscles or fatigued, it is very important to not push your body through a workout and allow yourself to rest.  If you are feeling like you are coming down with a cold and you are not sure if you should work out, it is recommended to talk to a doctor before any physical activity and if you feel lousy after ten minutes of your workout, do not continue working out and focus on rest. Some workouts during your head cold can include:

  • A walk might be one of the most beneficial methods of opening the airways and relieving congestion.
  • Try jogging lightly as long as it is part of your regular workout routine and you only have a mild head cold.
  • Yoga–this is one stress-relieving workout that will help the body fight off your cold.  The stretching involved with yoga can also relieve aches related to colds and sinus infections.
  • Dancing is another stress-reducing workout that will aid in strengthening the immune system.   Low-impact dance won’t put too much stress on your joints and may be the perfect workout while feeling sick.

  There are several workouts that are specifically not suggested when feeling sick, however:

  • Endurance running. If you are training for any kind of race or marathon, it is best to skip this week’s run.  Keep in mind that workouts while sick should be kept very low impact and lighter than your usual routine.
  • Weight machines at the gym. Lifting weights may put more strain to your muscles and force your body to work harder when it is already using a lot of energy to make you feel better.  Lifting weights may also increase your risk for injury since your body is weaker than usual while sick.
  • Swimming and biking. For some, swimming and biking works as long as it is low intensity, but others find it harder to breathe well during these activities.
  • Outdoor activity in the cold. Cold and dry air can constrict and irritate your air passages and cause a runny nose and coughing.  Again, be aware of the messages your body is sending you.

Even though some workouts are acceptable during a head cold, be sure to keep in mind that it is suggested to lessen the intensity of your regular workout and reduce the amount of time of your regular workout routine.  During these workouts, be aware of your body and if you feel like you are pushing too much, don’t be discouraged; simply listen to your body and give it rest if you aren’t feeling well enough to work out.  A couple days rest from working out won’t affect your usual performance, just gradually work up to your regular regimen as you feel better.

Tonight, I might look up some yoga videos on YouTube and see how I feel!  YouTube is my favorite go-to for workouts—the videos are free and there are so many people who post workouts for exactly what you need.

Stay healthy and be strong!


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