Sweat it out or sit it out? The Dos and Don’ts of exercising when sick/ill

There is nothing worse than waking up one morning and your head is stuffed up or you feel like death is at your door. Then you realise its gym day and sure you’ve heard your coach or friend tell you that you should SWEAT IT OUT! And sure you’ll be a soldier for sucking it up and working out when you’re under the weather.

Firstly, no one likes that guy who walks into the gym coughing and spluttering all over the gym mats and equipment. There is nothing more attractive than squatting beside someone mouth breathing loudly between sets because they are so caught up (I kid!).

Yes, we are surrounded by bacteria and germs on a daily basis but the ones that seem to catch hold and bring us to our knees are; colds, Flus, coughs, sinuses, tonsillitis, and sore throats. Generally, our immune system usually takes care of these annoyances by attacking the foreign bodies. Depending on the person this could last between 2 -14 days. Interestingly, women tend to have an overall stronger immune system than our male counterparts so MAN FLU may actually be a thing.

So if I feel like crap should I workout? Ok, so, there is a massive difference between working out and staying active (moving the body). A workout should be designed as a moderate to high intensity routine that elicits a stress response to the body. In order to change the body we must challenge it! This includes sweating, heavy breathing, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and over time this stress makes the body stronger and fitter. But when we are sick our bodies put all there focus into recovery and if we add the stress of doing a high intensity workout we leave out bodies open to infection. So a cough becomes a chest infection etc. It may delay the time it takes for our bodies to recover.

Does this give me the green light to lay up on the couch and not move until its passed? Not so much, low to moderate exercise has been shown to boost the immune system. Examples or low to moderate activities include; walking, gardening, low steady state cycling/treadmill, stretching.

Other tips for recovering faster;

Sleep: make sure you get a good night’s sleep and try to squeeze in a 20 minute nap during the day too

Food: Eat lots of green leafy vegetables (asparagus, artichoke) and vitamin c rich fruits (berries, citrus fruits, apples) and good healthy fats. You can take supplements also.

Stress: try and reduce the stress load at work or home. If you can minimise the stress load on the body the faster the body can recover.

Exercise: Light to moderate exercise can help recharge the immune system so if well enough stay moving.