Sometimes hitting the gym makes you feel better, other times it lets your illness kick into overdrive. Working out provides a natural immunity boost, and light exercise can relieve congestion and boost circulation, but doing too much while sick can cause viruses to spread into muscles and cause heart muscle damage. So, how do you know when to go and when to no-show during flu season? Any choice you make has to be based on your symptoms.
The best test of your symptoms is the ‘neck check’. Symptoms above your neck, such as a slightly runny nose, sinus pressure or itchy throat, are ok to go with. When you are coughing heavily, catching chills or facing stomach problems, stay put at home. A fever, while an above the neck symptom, usually goes hand in hand with some full body symptoms and should always keep you home. Your body temperature is already increased with a fever, and bringing it even higher with exercise can be very dangerous. It’s almost impossible to get an effective workout in when your body can’t regulate temperature, breathe properly, or hold fluids. Missing a few workouts when you’re not feeling great won’t set you back as much as you might fear.
If you’re feeling a little under the weather, but your symptoms check out, and you really want to hit the gym, make a few changes to your regular routine. Bring the intensity of your session down, use a towel and clean everything with sanitizing wipes immediately after use. Staying away from group classes is a must, and be sure to maintain hydration levels with help from water and sports drinks.
Of course, the best way to know you won’t miss any gym days with a head cold or the flu is to prevent them altogether. Washing your hands consistently and getting a flu shot are both great preventative measures.