It’s that time of year again where colds and flu seem to be around every corner. These nasty bugs can last anywhere from 1-2 weeks without complications, so it’s important to look after yourself. If they become more serious, they can turn into chest infections, coughing, and bronchitis, which can lead to a longer recovery time. So what happens when we aren’t feeling ourselves and want to get an exercise session in? Before you make that decision, think about what you are potentially doing to your body.
When your body is feeling achy and you aren’t your normal self, exercise is often the last thing you feel like doing. Your body feels stressed and exercise will feel like more work and pressure on the body. This is when you need to determine if exercise is the best option for you or not. One can exercise if you are suffering from a mild head cold and your symptoms are isolated from the neck up. This means nasal congestion, runny nose and and a mild headache. Light exercise at this point may even help to open up those blocked airways and increase the ability to breathe. If your symptoms are isolated from the neck down, this is where it is suggested that you do not exercise. These symptoms include a tight chest, coughing, rapid heart rate or even a fever. Any exercise that is done with these symptoms will place further stress on your body and can cause damage to your muscles, lungs and heart.
Exercise, although it’s tough on the body, can also be great for building your immune system. Your body releases endorphins that help fight away colds and flu. As exercise is an important part of building your immune system, it is also important to make sure that you are taking in the correct nutrients for a healthy body and mind, getting enough sleep and staying as hydrated as you can.
Read more here on how to make sure you are choosing the correct foods to keep your body healthy and strong over the flu season.
When you are considering doing light training and you are feeling a little under the weather, there are some exercises that would be a better choice, in comparison to the more intense alternatives. Depending on how you are feeling, it’s important to do only what your body allows, and don’t push yourself. If you feel you aren’t up to it, then stop and listen to your body. It would be a better idea to consider going for a walk, rather than a normal fast paced run. You will still get some fresh air and keep your muscles moving, but this way you are protecting your heart and lungs. Other options to consider are Pilates, yoga or stretching classes. Yoga can be good for stress relief and relaxation, which can help build your immune system, and the stretching can help to take away any pain or aches that may come with the getting flu like symptoms.
Exercises to avoid when your body is not functioning at 100% are higher intensity training. Things like running, high intensity weight lifting, swimming, or any endurance sports. High cardio training will place unnecessary pressure on your body and this can be detrimental to your health.
Another thing to consider is keeping warm. If you are coming down with something, choosing to exercise outdoors in the cold or wet weather can do more harm than good. Cold and dry air can irritate your body’s airways, leading to coughing, making your nose run or tighten your chest. So wherever possible, it would be best to stay warm and as dry as possible.
It is important to stay as active as you can to maintain your fitness and strength. But one needs to remember that we are all human, and it’s not possible to avoid illness 100% of the time. So when you do pick up a bug or two, remember that your body may need to rest. It is ok to take time off from training in order to recover. You will feel far better for it and your body will thank you in return.