Wednesday Workout Tip: If you’re sick, rest up
The season of cold and flu is upon us. Sneezing, sniffling, abandoned Kleenex, and empty cold med containers are heard and seen more frequently. Those infected feel a variety of aches and pains, tired, grumpy, and fairly low on energy.
For regular exercisers, a cold or flu can really interfere with your training regime. However, it is important to take the appropriate amount of recovery time.
The head of athletics at Ball State University, Thomas Weidner encourages athletes to perform the “neck check”. If symptoms include sneezing or a runny nose, you’re good. Symptoms below the neck such as aching muscles, fever or a chest cough are cause for concern.
This particular coach performed a few interesting experiments to determine whether having a cold would interfere with exercise performance and the severity and duration of the cold symptoms. What he found is that light-moderate exercise (40 minutes at 70% of max heart rate) didn’t have any influence on the length and severity of symptoms.
So why am I telling you to rest up?
Exercise exerts considerable stress on your body (good stress, but stress all the same). While regular exercise will strengthen your immune system, exercising while sick (when the immune system is already down) will only increase your physical stress level. Yes, I know, the aforementioned study exercising doesn’t increase with the severity or duration of the sickness, but it also doesn’t shorten it. And having a few days rest is probably a good thing. Not only for your physical health and recovery, but your mental health.
I am getting a little off piste here, but you get the point. Resting when you are sick is a good thing. It allows your immune system to focus on one thing, fighting the infection as opposed to performing split duty helping your muscles to recover.
So help your T cells out and take a couple of days of rest. Your body will likely benefit and the added bonus, your mind will benefit too.
Hutchinson, Alex. Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.