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Should You Ever Work Out While Sick?

When You Should Push Through a Workout, When You Shouldn’t, and Why

It happens to the best of us. No one is immune to all of the germs all of the time, and you eventually get knocked down with illness. To make matters worse, you’ve really built up some momentum in your training lately and you hate to lose all of that hard work.

You really don’t want to get sidelined. Next thing you know, it’s that damn little voice in your head , “You gotta get up and push through it today!”

So the question becomes…..should you do it while you’re sick?

When You Should

Here’s what a recent article from the Daily Burn had to say about the question:

Granted you don’t have a fever, a runny nose is no reason to skip a workout, says Wayne Stokes, M.D., director of sports medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Rehabilitation. Instead, scale your intensity…“If you are mildly sick, [staying] active will promote your immune function, and help you sleep better,” he says.

“When I have a mild cold or stuffy nose…I don’t push myself or place any higher demand on my body during those sessions. I treat it like an active recovery day and I tell my clients to do the same,” Idalis Velazquez adds [certified personal trainer and owner of IV Fitness in Florida].

Sometimes, working up a sweat and working through a mild funk is just what your body needs. That said, keep your sick workouts low-intensity and be sure to do them at home. Don’t be that snotty, sneezy person who is the target of everyone’s evil eye at the gym.

When You Obviously Shouldn’t

The rest of the Daily Burn article talks about when you should just rest up and save it for another day. Seems like this would fall under the category of common sense, but we know that can be lacking these days.

So for those who need things spelled out as to when you shouldn’t workout, here it is in a nutshell:

If you cannot be more than 5 feet away from your bathroom, DON’T WORKOUT!

And seriously, if you’re contagious at all – STAY HOME. Those nasty germs, like the norovirus and others, can live on gym equipment for HOURS until the next unsuspecting person comes along.

Yes, this is basic Gym Etiquette 101 but it’s kinda like washing your hands after going to the bathroom….everyone knows they should do it but not everyone does.

sick in gym 4

The Not-So-Obvious Reasons Why You Shouldn’t

Chances are you’ve gotten sick from someone else’s “cooties” at the gym, so obviously common sense is not enough to keep a lot of sick people home. Maybe some of these reasons will help:

Working out with a fever can make your health way worse, Stokes says. That’s largely because a fever, like vomiting, can cause workout-wrecking dehydration.

Even more concerning, high temperatures (101 degrees and up) have been linked to heart damage. And exercising through a fever can raise your risk of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that may result in heart dysfunction, failure or sudden death, Stokes says. “It’s not common, but it is possible and good reason not to push yourself.”

If you have the flu, it will likely take three to five days for your symptoms to let up. Don’t forget that your fever, muscle aches, and other pains are often signs that your body is trying to fight off a virus. So if you make your body split its energy and resources between the infection and exercise, you will likely be sick longer, he says.

And if you’re sick longer, that means you’re sidelined longer and you’ll lose some of the strength and momentum that you worked so hard for.

Bottom line, listen to your body and take care of it. If you do, it will get you back to 100% much faster.

Sources: Daily Burn
Photos: Flickr (Photo 1 & 2)

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