Falling sick is a sign that your body's immune system has been compromised. People usually take this showing very seriously and resort to periods of self-confinement, in the hopes that it’ll expedite a full recovery. However, there are others who believe that getting their heart racing and adrenaline pumping is the perfect panacea for their condition.
So, what’s the protocol for exercising when you’re feeling unwell?
Experts agree that it might be better to give the gym a miss when you are feeling ill. However, if your symptoms are mild then you can choose to listen to your body and decide if you’re up for a light session in the gym. “Exercise is great for prevention, but it can be lousy for therapy,” David Nieman, a professor and director of the Human Performance Lab at Appalachian State University, told Time. “If your symptoms are neck up—things like sinus and nasal congestion, sore throat, etc. — exercise neither helps nor hurt.”
However, if you are down with the flu, refrain from visiting the gym at all costs. Some people think they should sweat out the virus, but experts warn that working out with the flu is a horrible idea. According to Mariane Fahlman, PhD, a professor of health education at Wayne State University, the immune system works overtime trying to fight off the flu when you exercise, which can prolong your recovery process.
Past studies have shown that exercising with the flu can lead to chronic fatigue symptoms that last for years due to the body not being able to focus on treating virus. “I know that not exercising at all is a bitter pill for many to swallow,” Nieman said. “But if you have the flu or anything that causes fever or muscles aches or weakness, that’s a time not to exercise at all.”
Instead, health experts recommend athletes to wait out the urge to exercise for an entire week after your fever goes away. Even then, you need to make sure that you start right by beginning with milder, scaled training sessions before getting back to high-intensity workouts.
Being confined to the sidelines can be a crappy feeling, but you’ll be better off in the long run if you respect your body by giving it the time and space to get better before returning to training. There are many things you can do to make your rest days just as productive – try organising your room or completing a new book!