Being Sick and Working Out: Finding the Right Balance

Credit: mcfarlandmo, Flickr

Credit: mcfarlandmo, Flickr

Hi there, and happy almost-New Year! Did everyone get just what they wanted for Christmas/ Hanukkah/ Festivus/ Solstice/ Kwanzaa? In some respects, I did—I got a pretty purple Road ID, which truly is exactly what I wanted. But, I also got a little something else—a horrible, terrible, awfully bad cold. You know, the kind that starts out as knives in your sinuses and ends with you sweating in bed, surrounded by 6 billion snotty tissues? Yeah, that kind. Merry freakin’ Christmas to me, huh?

More often than not, when I feel under the weather, I make it a point to get a little sweaty. I find that a bit of exercise (not hard or long workouts, mind you, just a little something to raise my heart rate) tends to make me feel loads better and generally seems to give my immune system a boost.

But sometimes, I know that I need to just give it a rest—a real, 100 percent, don’t-do-anything rest—and let my body fight whatever nasty thing it’s caught. This was one of those times, and I’m not the least bit ashamed that I didn’t do anything more taxing than taking my dogs for a short walk for five whole days. I slept in and watched movies, and today, on my first day of feeling human, I’m back to business as usual. I just ran three easy miles (which felt so amazing), and I’m heading out to a Zumba class in an hour or so.

Right there is a little added bonus to allowing myself that much-needed time off—not only do I feel ever so much better today, but I really, really missed working out, so now that I’m back in action, I can’t get enough!

How do you deal with working out when you’re under the weather? Do you listen to your body? Rest no matter what? Or exercise to the best of your ability anyway? —Kristen

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  1. Julie says:

    I normally shut down and rest when I feel like I’m getting sick. This usually works, but a few weeks ago it didn’t and I was sick for 2 weeks!

  2. Cat says:

    My cold started with the scratchy throat, so I went ahead and ran on the t-mill last night. Today I have more sinus pressure but will likely go to the gym for some cardio and weights, then go home and NAP!

  3. Chris says:

    I have not felt good for almost a month now. I am one that can’t just sit down and rest. I ended up with bronchitis in the hospital and I am still not feeling up to par. Just very tired and no appetite. Went to doctor yesterday and he said rest, fluids and nutrition. I am having an argument within myself that at least in home walking won’t hurt. To be honest, today I am not sure I can muster up enough energy to even do that. I guess I will wait until next Monday so I can work on my 2012 goals. What do you all think?

  4. Grace says:

    I definitely try to get some excersize but me being the germ freak I am, I don’t go to a gym. I wouldn’t want to be working out next to someone coughing all over the machines so I’m not going to go spread my germs all over the place. I like to do some light cardio or yoga at home.

  5. Stephanie says:

    I usually think that sweating it out can be a good thing, depending on what I’ve got. Right now I’ve got some sort of plague that is accompanied by a fever, and I’m not sure that raising my body temperature at this point is a smart idea.

    My first clue that I was getting sick came on Monday, when I went for a run. It was terrible, my lungs were on fire, and what was supposed to be an hour run ended up a 35 minute run/walk.

    If it’s just a stuffy nose, exercise can sometimes “clear it out.” But definitely it’s important to listen to your body. If I’m feeling weak, that’s not the time to hit the weight rack.

  6. Michelle says:

    I’m sick, too, and it kills me that it’s a sunny day and I’m stuck inside with a cold. I went outside briefly to check mail, but even that made me realize that I need to stay inside where it’s warm and continue to rest and drink fluids. I thought I might go for a short walk, but as dizzy as I’m feeling, I’m thinking that’s not a good idea.

  7. Helen says:

    Oh my God! I was just thinking of emailing you that question!!! I got sick three days ago and although I wanted I just cannot get my heart rate up with fever and sneezing all the time.. So I will give myself a break for a couple of days more and then start working out again..

  8. Well, the above/below rule has usually worked for me. Above-the-neck stuff can be worked through during a workout (but of course it is totally OK to take things slow & scale back from the normal routine… don’t want to push your body TOO hard). Below-the-neck issues (incl. fever, which is a full-body thing) are typically going to take more energy & time for your body to beat, so it’s best to just wait ’til you’re all healed up when that’s the case.

    That said, I’ve had a really bad cold for about a month now. Finally made it to the doc, & she said to avoid anything beyond walking & stretching. I went to yoga this morning & it felt great, except that I couldn’t do some poses because of bruised ribs from coughing so much/hard.

  9. Amy says:

    I had the flu a couple of weeks ago with a lot of schmutz in my chest/throat. I took the week off due to severe fatigue/body aches. But when I got back to running, I found that it pushed the residual schmutz out of my lungs and actually made me feel better.