A scratchy throat. Runny nose. Hacking cough. You’ve got it all, thanks to some person on the bus who didn’t cover his mouth or wash his hands. Now you’re tired and achy, and it feels like you’ve been hit with the plague. All you want to do is take a NyQuil, turn on Netflix, and rest up after work—but what about your hard-earned results? You’ve been killing it on the free weights lately, and you don’t want to wreck your streak.
The question remains: should you take a few days off or should you work out while sick?
First, the best news: Active people get over illnesses faster than couch potatoes, and their symptoms are less acute. Nice! In fact, 30 minutes of regular exercise three to four times a week has been shown to raise immunity by raising levels of T cells. Congrats, you fit thing, you!
Next: there’s a difference between working out and moving your body. Working out is a structured routine, and it’s supposed to suck a little bit. When you’re working out, you should be feeling slight discomfort, sweating a bunch, and have a fast heartbeat. All of this raises stress levels in the body and ultimately builds your fitness level. Healthy bods deal with this stress, no problem. Sick bodies, however, can freak out when their compromised immune systems are hit with stress. When you’re sick, it’s probably best to choose low-intensity, solo workouts like walking, moderate biking, yoga, or swimming.
If you just can’t resist the gym and want to work out while sick, do your best to avoid spreading your contagion. We all know we should wipe off the machines after use– if you go to the gym contagious, this is doubly important. You need to use the correct etiquette, because sweat can carry mucus particles down your face and onto equipment, and cold germs can live on hard surfaces for hours. Eeeeugh. Share Promax Bars, not germs!
If you feel worse after your workout, that’s your body telling you to cut back. Reduce your intensity by half, or go for half the time you usually do. Make sure you’re also getting vital nutrients to speed up the healing process—drink extra water, bland foods, fresh veggies, and plenty of protein. In fact, your protein needs are higher when you’re sick, because it helps repair cells and maintain fluid balance. This is the perfect time to have a Promax Lemon Bar—it has 18 vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help you recover fast.
When should you stay on the couch?
Do a “neck check.” If your symptoms are below the neck—chest congestion, aching, vomiting, or diarrhea come to mind—just consider running to the bathroom your cardio for the next few days. If you have a fever, that warning goes double: fever can cause dehydration, and raising your body temperature can make you more vulnerable to heart damage, which is no joke. Stay on the sidelines.
When you’re feeling better and want to resume your usual exercise routine, listen to your body and don’t overexert yourself. And don’t feel discouraged if you come back a little less harder/faster/better/stronger than before… resting for just one week can lead to a slight loss of strength and muscle mass, but it’ll return quickly!
In summary, if you feel too sick to go to work, you’re probably too sick to work out normally. Low-intensity movements are your friends at this time and will actually boost your body’s autoimmune response. When you get back to the gym, you’ll make up for lost time in no time.
While both are obviously important, you need to prioritize health over fitness when you’re sick. Feel better soon! For more information about how to make the most of your workouts, check back each week for tips from Promax Nutrition.