Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Should You Exercise When Sick?

Don't be ashamed to put this sign up

At this most recent Thanksgiving get together, one of my cousins was sick with a real bad cold.  I didn't worry about catching what he had as I hadn't been sick in years and didn't plan on getting sick anytime soon. But a few days later I felt minor pain and itchiness in my throat. I thought it was just from the night before where I had to scream so I could be heard over the loud music at the club :)

Unfortunately, my symptoms started getting worse throughout the day and I knew I had caught my cousin's cold...Damn! So the question was should I exercise when sick?

This is a question that I would have answered "Hell yeah!" to in the past. However, my experiences  with this have taught me that lifting weights when you're sick can actually do more harm than good. 

I've noticed in the past that it would actually take me LONGER to get over the sickness so I would miss even more gym days if I went to workout while sick. Plus the days that I did force myself to go, did not provide very productive workouts. I would feel very weak and also have a harder time breathing so I was resting longer in between sets. These forced workouts just did not feel good at all when I was done.

How the weights feel when you're sick

My symptoms had started this past Sunday so I did not go workout that day. The symptoms got even worse the next two days so I knew there was definitely no working out for me for a couple of days. Today is Wednesday and I feel better but not yet fully recovered. 

I feel like I could go workout but I still have some symptoms affecting my breathing. I am not 100% percent yet and I don't want to do anything that would slow my body's ability to recover from this cold so I decided against going to the gym....almost a whole week off from the gym! :(

Now don't get me wrong and think that I like the use of being sick as an excuse to not go to the gym. I actually hate that I can't go pump some iron, but at the same time I know I need to let my body get better.

Let these guys do their job!
Exercise has been shown to boost the immune system but too much exercise or too intense exercise has been shown to actually decrease immunity. This is what occurs when you workout while sick. A regular weight lifting session when healthy would be good for the immune system, however the same workout while sick would be an added stressor to the body possibly making symptoms last longer and become more severe.

I've experienced this myself in the past. Before when I got sick, I continued to force myself to go to the gym while sick and I just wouldn't get better. It felt like my cold was lasting forever. I think it wasn't until I came down with a flu that I stopped working out and just let my body rest. This forced rest finally allowed my body to recover and overcome the cold!

These days when I get sick, I tell myself to just relax and get as much as I can. The more rest I get, the quicker my body can recover and the quicker I can back in the gym! I also take some extra vitamin C, vitamin D, and plenty of fluids to hopefully speed recovery :)

How is everyone else's experience with workout out when sick?


Sabah said...

Agreed, plus there's the possibility of spreading the bug to other gym goers!

Duong Nguyen said...

That's another great point Sabah :)
It's pretty disgusting seeing a really sick person in the gym and thinking about all the bad germs they are spreading!

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