It's that time of year again where it's flu and cold season. Maybe you or someone around you (work, family, friends, fellow gym-goers) is getting sick. Being sick seriously sucks. I usually get sick when least expected and it is always the WORST timing. Last week, I started feeling sick Tuesday morning and I was leaving for Florida the following morning... just my luck right?
So many people have been asking me about training through sickness. Do you stay home and rest, push through, or attempt a half effort workout? Personally, I would say it depends on the situation. Are you sick with just a tiny head cold, the flu, or a stomach virus (or something along those lines)? There's a difference between just feeling under the weather and actually be SICK.
Feeling under the weather would mean you have a very mild cold, maybe you are stuffy or have a slight cough. In this scenario, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. You know your own body better than anyone else (and better than google). If you feel fine other than a little bit of a runny nose or something along those lines then I would say go ahead and workout normally if you are feeling up to it. It's really your choice here but know that working out intensely suppresses your immune system even more which could potentially cause your cold to get worse. From personal experience, I will normally just push through a cold and continue with my training but I will also listen to my body. Instead of my normal strength session, metcon, accessory work, I might cut out one of those things or just lower the intensity a little bit. Usually I will start feeling better in a few days of a little lower intensity training, plenty of sleep, chugging water, and taking some extra vitamins!
Being sick could mean you have either a viral or bacterial infection. Examples would be feeling fatigued, hot or cold spells, severe headaches, body aches, body pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. Typically, any of those listed symptoms mean you are definitely sick and you should REST. Trust me, I know from very recent personal experience (AKA last week)! I competed in a 2-day competition on Saturday and Sunday and my body was pretty beat up but I had definitely felt worse before so I decided to train regularly on Monday. Tuesday morning rolls around and I woke up not feeling too hot. I had stomach pain and bathroom issues (TMI) but I tried to talk myself into believing that it was no big deal. I went to the gym and started mobilizing and got out my gym gear but even just walking around I felt fatigued and yucky. I stood there debating to try to train or not but ended up deciding to LISTEN TO MY BODY. I felt so yucky and was still so sore and I knew that if I attempted to do anything at the gym, it would've been a waste of energy and pretty much doing more damage than good. I am SO glad I listened to my body because I got home and started having heat/cold flashes and realized I had a high fever and was definitely in no condition to workout. I rested up, drank tons of water, took medicine, slept, took a hot shower, etc. I made sure not to push getting back to training until I was feeling up to it. I rested Tues/Wed, did a light workout Thursday evening that felt okay, rested Fri/Sat/Sun. That is pretty much a record for me. Normally, I only take one full rest day a week and even then, sometimes I end up training on that rest day anyways so for me to be off for almost a week total is a big WOW. But I knew my body needed it to get back to feeling good and being healthy!
My biggest advice would be when you are feeling sick, get as much rest as possible (especially the first few days/first week). If you are feeling better, get back to the gym the second week. I wouldn't jump right back into 100% effort training that first day but maybe give yourself lower expectations and workout a little lighter than you'd like to. This might mean moving at a slower pace or using lighter weights or scaling some of the movements back. That is totally fine. Nobody is going to judge you... you are recovering from being sick and don't want to push too hard and make yourself feel worse.
It takes more courage to rest when you're sick than it does to just push through sickness and end up making yourself feel worse. That period of rest can only help your body. Yes, you may be missing a few workouts but overall, your body is screaming at you that it needs a break so LISTEN. We all get sick at some point... it's unavoidable. But the best thing to do is know your body and listen to it. Stay home if you are sick and keep those germs away from all of your friends at the gym who have to use the equipment after you. Spreading sickness at the gym isn't cool. If you are going to train though a cold: be aware of others, spray down and disinfect any equipment you use, wash your hands before and after, carry hand sanitizer with you, and cover your mouth when coughing/sneezing.
Rest. Recover. Sleep. Drink water. Eat healthy. Be patient. Listen to your body.
I am passionate about creating a healthy lifestyle for myself & helping those around me.