Winter colds: Should you skip your workout?
Of course, the answer depends on many factors including how sick you are and your overall health.
Before you decide to get off the couch and find your cross trainers, consider whether you might be better off staying home and resting than heading into the gym. Not only could you inadvertently spread whatever virus ails you, you could also make yourself sicker from overexertion. If you’re really uncertain about whether you should work out while you’re ill, consult your primary health provider.
Here are four recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine to consider when you’re feeling sick.
- If your symptoms are confined to your head – sore throat, runny nose — you can exercise moderately. Hold off on intense exercise until it’s been a few days after your cold symptoms go away.
- Stay hydrated. “Sweating out” a virus is a myth. (Staying hydrated also helps your immune system.)
- Stay home and skip your workout if you have a fever, body aches or a respiratory infection. Listen to your body.
- Give your body time to recover from a bad cold or the flu. When you resume your workouts, take it easy and gradually increase your workout intensity.
The good news is that consistent, moderate exercise can lower your risk for respiratory infections if you put in about 30 minutes on most days of the week, according to ACSM Fellow David C. Nieman.
Getting a flu shot also helps prevent illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over the age of 6 months get an annual flu shot. If you haven’t received your flu shot, there’s still time. Flu season often peaks in early spring.