Thursday, November 1, 2012

You're sick? When and how you should work out

This week I've been fighting off a cold. It started in my sinuses and moved to my chest. In the past, I would have worked out regardless and have possibly prolonged my sickness. You see, working out can be a bit of a compulsion for many fitness pros regardless of the impact on our health and wellness. I've learned over the years and much experience with my health that sometimes staying well means doing less and engaging in restorative activities. After all, the fastest way to get out of shape is to get seriously injured or sick. The best thing we can do when trying to get over a cold or flu is to give our immune system what it needs to repair our bodies.

So here are my rules for working out when you're sick.

DON'T Workout at all and ONLY stretch, meditate and use a physio roll to release tension if:

1) You have a fever. You're at the height of your body's fight and contagious!

2) Have a chest infection that requires medication
3) Are sick and seriously sleep deprived
4) Are at all barfy from a stomach virus.
5) Have a sinus infection and pain in your sinuses.


1) Go easy on cardio and only get your heart rate up to an endurance pace.
2) Don't do activities that make you sweat heavily or run out of breath.
3) Don't lift heavy weights or do challenging full body exercises that make your heart work hard.
4) Do strength work that is focused on alignment and smaller core or postural muscles.
5) Yoga is fine too if it's low key, not macho at all. Use child's pose whenever you feel tapped out energetically.
6) Pilates work that doesn't shoot your heart rate into anaerobic zone (i.e. out of breath) is fine too.

If it's the first two days of a sickness, take it really easy and rest. Anyone can stretch and roll on a physio roller even if you're sick so don't stop moving all together. You might be able to fight off a virus early with rest, rest and more rest. You don't know what you're dealing with yet. Going to a gym to spread God knows what germs you're fighting can get lots of other people sick. Taking a couple days off of working out if you're regularly hitting your workouts can be a great thing. If you're training regularly and getting sick often, you might be missing the big picture. It's easy to get into over training mode when you're not well rested, well fed and dealing with adrenal fatigue.

The biggest thing when fighting off a virus is to workout in a way that gives you energy (builds chi) and doesn't leave you feeling depleted. Your focus should be on sleep hygiene and healthy food and hydration. If you're really sick and can't seem to take time off working out, time to look at if you're really working out for health or if it's an unhealthy obsession!

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