Training When Sick

“Of those four (Sleep/Stress/Nutrition/Movement), I can tell you that today I am missing the movement piece.  It wasn’t my day off but I didn’t go today.  Just not feeling 100%.  Curious if you could give us a quick 1-2 lines about working out when you are sick?  Should you do it?”

Training when sick? Should you do it or should you lay off? The answer is yes or no. I’ll give some of the pro’s and con’s for training while sick and then allow you to make your own decisions.

Pro #1 – Training will help you get over your illness quicker. Depending on the severity of your illness, a training session that is appropriately scaled in intensity can help to send blood and vital nutrients around the body. This can aid in your recovery process by helping to rid the body of toxins.

Pro #2 – Psychologically, illness most often leaves people feeling like a victim and powerless to do anything. We all know how empowering exercise can be. Getting into the gym to move can help shift the thought cycle you get into when you are sick. Too often I see people letting the illness take over their minds. Their physical symptoms set off a chain reaction that takes over the brain. Change that, step outside, or into the gym, and do some functional movement. Scale the intensity if you need to but prove to yourself that you are not a victim.

Pro #3 – At TJ’s you are going to get a healthy dose of community at the same time as you get a healthy dose of fitness. Being sick often equates to more time alone in isolation. There is a time and place for quiet when you are trying to recover from illness. However, being around other people can boost the spirits and aid in recovery.

Pro #4 – An appropriate dose of exercise will help to keep your sleep cycle normal in the healing process. Getting more sleep as a result of being tired from your workout will pay off huge in getting over your illness.

Con – If you are feeling very sick and you train TOO intensely, you may stress the body out TOO much. Was that a vague enough sentence for you all? What I mean here is that high intensity exercise is a stressful event, just like a bacterial or viral infection is a stressful event in the body. If you pile too much stress on top of each other you could set your body back even further. I’ve seen it happen. People have a really hard workout, one of the hardest ever, and they end up sick the next day. Their body was able to handle fighting off a potential infection right up until they slammed themselves with too much intensity. Be careful to moderate your intensity. Use the above the neck/below the neck rule. If you have head cold, sniffles, runny nose, symptoms like that then I say you are good to train. If it gets systemic and you are running a fever then you might want to wait until that calms down before easing back in to training.

Hope these help Meg – add your own thoughts to comments.

MF