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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

A Spoonful of Fitness: Should You Work Out When You’re Sick?

GettyImages-674772578-1Have you ever woken up feeling like a truck ran you over? This might be due to an underlying illness; whether it be a cold, flu, bronchitis, or some other bug, it seems to happen to everyone at least once per year. When it comes to fitness, we sometimes have to make a choice: “Should I work out or should I rest?” The answer to this is not as cut and dried as it might seem. We’ll look at when it’s a good idea to stay home and chill and when you can just “sweat it out.”

Making the Call: Should I Cancel My Workout?

Sometimes just keeping up with your daily routines can help you feel better, especially as you move through the day. You might even pick up energy from exercise and activity instead of staying idle at home. A few guidelines dictate whether you should green-light a workout. According to experts, a major factor to consider is body temperature. Having any kind of fever is an immediate red flag, especially at more than 101 degrees. Another obvious red flag is if you are unable to keep fluids down. Anytime you are dehydrated, your body does not function at peak capacity. Here are some additional ideas to help make the decision.

Going Back to Working Out After Being Sick

When you feel like you are ready to go back to the gym, try to ease into your workout. Your body (namely your T-cells) has been fighting a battle. A quick assessment of your symptoms should give you a good indication of whether you are good to go. Temperature, fluids, and blood pressure are all surefire ways to draw that line in the sand.

How to Keep from Getting Sick Again

Finally, you should hopefully, at this point in your life, understand the importance of illness prevention—not only for you, but also for those around you. The routine of washing hands wasn’t widely practiced until about 150 years ago when a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis discovered that when his crew washed their hands between patients, the number of diseased and dying patients dropped off immediately. The long forgotten disease, puerperal fever (sometimes known as childbed fever) was nearly eradicated by simply implementing a hand-washing regimen. Today’s world allows almost endless opportunities to not only transmit illness, but also prevent them. Enough history lessons, though. You get the point: wash your hands often, please.

Ask for Help from the NIFS Staff

NIFS staff can help you in a number of ways, especially when deciding whether exercise is right for you when you are not feeling well. Blood pressure monitors, both electronic and manual, as well as an oxygen sensor are available to all members. A well-stocked first aid kit and a staff well versed in first aid and safety are also on your side. Always remember, your workout is important, but your health is priceless.

Muscleheads evolve (and rejoice)

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This blog was written by Thomas Livengood, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. To read more about the other NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness center Thomas' Corner nifs staff workout illness oxygen illness prevention handwashing

Should You Work Out When You’re Sick?

482395581This is the time of year when everyone seems to be getting sick. A head cold, the flu, a constant cough, a sore throat, chest cold, sinus infection…you name it, it’s around. I know when I am under the weather, one question that comes to my mind is, “Should I work out, or should I just let my body rest for a few days?”

For the avid exerciser, a few days may seem like months taken off your performance. There are lots of ways to look at this topic, and truly I think it depends on what type of illness you have. But let’s take a look at a few things to help you determine whether working out while you are ill is a good idea or a bad one.

Definite No:

  • If you have a fever, you should definitely skip the workout. When you have a fever, raising your internal body temperature through working out can make you even sicker, so stay home and lay low. Typically, you are contagious for 5 to 7 days when you have a fever, so steer clear of the gym.
  • If you are vomiting or have diarrhea, do not work out. This is the time that it’s most important to stay in bed and rest.
  • According to an article in Men’s Fitness, if you are starting to feel sick and end up feeling worse after you complete your workout, cut back and take a break.

Possibly Yes:

  • If you have a runny nose or just a sniffle, it’s most likely okay to work out. The Mayo Clinic says exercise may even make you feel better by opening up your nasal passages and help relieve nasal congestion.
  • Dr. Neil Schachter, a physician from Mt. Sinai Medical Center, has a good method to help determine whether you can work out. It’s called the Neck Check. If your symptoms are above the neck, including a sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, and watery eyes, you are okay to exercise. Exercise does raise the body’s immune system, helping to defend it and fight off illness.

The most important thing to do is listen to your body. If you cannot do something, then it is important to stop and don’t try to force yourself to keep going. Know that it is okay to not work out for a few days if you are sick; sometimes resting the body is the answer. Oftentimes the human body gets run down, lowering the immune system, and causing you to get sick in the first place.

If you do choose to work out, just play it smart. Maybe consider a walk instead of a hard run, or a light bike instead of heavy weightlifting. The most important thing is to get healthy again so you can get back to your routine, so do what your body is asking you to do!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Health Fitness Specialist. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: healthy habits workouts illness immunity