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BBJ Fitness Corner | Should you exercise when sick?

ATHLETES need to train in order to stay in shape but there are always factors that prevent you from giving it your 100%. Catching a flu or any type of sickness could make you miss a few workout days so the question is should you continued to exercise when you are sick?

BBJ Athlete Maverick Itibus hydrating after his V1 Training. Contributed photo

You are in a consistent workout routine; however, you’ve just gotten sick. What do you do? Everyone has experienced this situation and sometimes we wonder if we should continue training with the same intensity or just lay back and do nothing at all. It is a tough decision to make to either sweat it out or rest and recover.

With proper approach, some exercises when sick are beneficial to stimulate immunity and help you fight the bug. It is tricky to find a balance with being inactive or exercising too much which can both lower immunity while something in the middle can improved immunity.

When we get sick, our immune system works hard to protect us. Every day we are exposed to bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The most common trespassers cause colds, coughs, throat infections and influenza.

A few exercise suggestions when sick include low intensity movements such as walking, jogging, swimming, biking, yoga, and T’ai chi. These suggested low intensity exercise approaches should be performed within 30-45 minutes to boost immunity.

However you should not push yourself too hard.

Activities to avoid when sick include heavy strength training, endurance training, high intensity interval training, sprints, team sports, and exercise in extreme temperatures. In addition, training in extended periods of rigorous exercise can weaken your immune system.

Although some exercises could boost your immunity, there are other factors that may do the exact opposite. Important factors that affect immunity include stress, sleep, climate, mood, and training intensity. If you are sick and fighting an infection, your immune system will already be stressed. And if you add these immunity affecting factors to your current state, your healing process will be disrupted.

If you feel healthy and want to avoid getting sick, a consistent moderate active days throughout the week with enough rest and recovery that includes sleep and proper nutrition intake can boost your immune system.

If you are already feeling sick, consider managing all the stress in your life that includes social, psychological and environmental. Also avoid intense and long duration workouts.

Additionally, even though you may be feeling better, keep in mind that you might still be able to spread your illness to others. Adults are able to infect others with the flu up to seven days after first experiencing flu symptoms.

Waiting until symptoms completely subside before progressively getting back into your workout routine is a safe way to return to exercise after an illness.

References:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/working-out-while-sick#section4

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/blog

https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/working-cold-debunking-myths/