It is tough when you finally make exercise a habit and see progress, only to have a cold or the flu knock you off track. With your strong desire to challenge yourself, you might be tempted to ignore your symptoms and push through your workouts. While this is okay under some circumstances, there are also times when exercise may only make things worse. Pay special attention to your symptoms before exercising when you are sick.
When to Exercise
Most health experts agree that when your discomfort and symptoms are in your head, like a stuffed up nose or minor sore throat, it’s okay to stick to your workouts. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise may briefly ease nasal congestion. If you decide to exercise, consider decreasing the intensity or time.
Even though you can exercise, it doesn’t always mean that you should. Keep in mind that these beginning symptoms might be the first signs of a more serious cold. Trust your instinct and take a break if you feel your body needs it. Rest can help you feel better, and one day isn’t going ruin your progress.
When to Rest
When your symptoms move below your neck and include chest tightness, coughing, upset stomach, aching muscles, or a fever, take a break until you start feeling better. Exercise increases your internal body temperature, so exercising when you have a fever can make you feel even worse. Pushing through workouts may set you back further than if you take a few days and allow your body to fight off the bug.
Allow Time to Recover
A bad cold and the flu can cause fatigue, muscle weakness, and dehydration. Be patient with yourself. If you were regularly active before the sickness, your body will likely bounce back quickly, but don’t get frustrated if it takes some time. It often takes up to two weeks to feel like your energetic self again. Ease back into workouts with lower intensity exercise and shorter sessions until you feel confident that your body is ready to push harder.