Thursday, October 25, 2012

Working Out + Being Sick

As you probably know, exercise is essential for maintaining good health. And actually, exercising can give a healthy boost to your immune system making you less susceptible for catching that awful cold in the first place. (Bonus!) That said, we’re not invincible, so what about those days when you wake up feeling a little under the weather? Should you be working out?

The other week I woke up feeling horrible, it felt like my body was rejecting me. I attempted to fight through the aches and pains without much success. I needed a day of rest; my body needed to shut down, curl up on the couch, smother itself in cozy blankets, and snuggle up to a couple of purring kittens.
Fast forward to the following day. The mornings are the worst whenever I’m not feeling well. My body just doesn't want to co-operate with me and will do anything to fight against getting out of bed. This day was no exception. Following my own rules, I didn't want to skip two days in a row at the gym. This could go either really right, or really, horribly wrong. After a lot of inner pep talks, I took the risk and off to the gym I went.
Within 5 minutes of my warm-up, I was a sweaty beast. I kept going, and I kept fighting through what seemed like would be my untimely death. I didn't feel good at all. To be frank, it sucked and I wanted to give up. Begrudgingly, I fought through it. Then something miraculous happened. I finished my workout, hopped in the shower, and I started feeling better! I wasn't cured and I definitely wasn't at 100% but I felt so much better for going and sweating it out at the gym. It helped!
So how do you know if you should go to the gym? The rules aren’t written out in black and white, that answer depends on you, and only you can make that call. Luckily, I’ve come up with some quick tips to help you out! Here’s what you do…
"The Neck Check". Wondering what the heck that is? It’s a simple way to assess your symptoms…
Are they below the neck? Think: Hacking cough, chest congestion, muscle aches, chills, upset stomach. In this case, you're better off taking a day of rest. If you have a serious infection that your body is trying to get rid of, working out can actually do more harm than good. The last thing you want to do is prolong your sickness. (And even worse - spread it around.)
Are they above the neck? Think: Sneezing, runny nose, scratchy throat. In this case, sweating it out can actually help you recover faster. (Some studies have said it can even cut your sick time in half compared to those who didn’t exercise!) Lace up those shoes and work through it.
Keep these points in mind:
1. Be mindful – a few years ago, I was a member at a gym and went regularly, and so did the girl who seemed to always be at the machine beside me. For weeks (literally – weeks), she would hop on that elliptical with a pile of Kleenex in front of her, blowing her nose again and again and again as she worked out. It. Was. Freaking. Gross. For the sake of the people around you, their gag reflexes, and their health, be careful not to spread your germs around. Don’t sneeze everywhere, don’t cough on everything, and be sure to wipe down everything after you use it.
2. Lower your intensity – like I said earlier, exercising can help you recover faster, but regardless of what your symptoms are, don’t go full throttle. You made it to the gym, you’re doing something great for your body, the last thing you want is to over-do it.
3. Hydrate – chances are you’re already dehydrated as it is, so make sure you’re getting enough fluids, drink more than what you would on a regular day.
It's all just another part of the journey to becoming the best you that you can possibly be!
Do you work out when you’re sick? Does it help you recover? I’d love to hear any more tips if you have them!
(Photo via; check out the link for a few more tips too!)


  1. What about when you're not sick and just don't want to go? ;) I'm impressed that you pushed yourself to go! I don't think I would be able to do that. Yay for lazy people! ha.

  2. @Kathleen It was a challenge, that's for sure! A healthy dose of guilt goes a long way :)

  3. Good for you for working out! Double points for doing it when you're sick!

    I hardly ever get sick or work out, but that's just me. :p

    Although I agree that you should share everything but secrets and germs, maybe the snotty eliptical lady just had allergies rather than something contagious.

  4. I love working out when I'm sick! Especially swimming... I always feel a thousand times better afterward.

  5. I usually swim when I'm not feeling too great - I still feel like I've done something but I don't feel like I'm dying!

  6. Good tips - I usually just get above the neck so I need to stop wussing out and suck it up!
    xo Emilie @ Hungry Delights