SHOULD I EXERCISE WHEN I'M SICK?
Originally published in Eastern Maine Health System's Total Health Newsletter, "Ask the Wellness Expert," March 2016
Depends on what ails you, say experts. In general if you have a fever, the answer is a flat out no. It can be dangerous to raise your internal body temperature higher than it already is. If there is no fever, and it's just a case of the sniffles, and you feel up to it then go ahead, just turn down the volume a bit. In other words, if you are runner, then choose walking instead. If you do high intensity yoga, turn down the heat with a more restorative style class. Ultimately, trust your instincts. If you are too fatigued to workout or have any below the neck symptoms such as coughing , diarrhea, vomiting, body aches, etc you simply need to rest (and seriously, if you have diarrhea and vomiting why would you want to work out)?
Even if you choose to work out, let's remember to "love thy neighbor like thyself." If there is any chance you are contagious then keep thyself and thy germs at home. There are so many online workout options these days that can help you get over the hump.
I would be remiss to post this article without talking about the bigger issue - how you got sick in the first place. Being human, it's inevitable that you will get sick from time to time, but there are a few things you can do to keep the achoo away from you. Thirty minutes of regular moderate exercise has been shown to increase T cells and thus increase immunity. Interestingly, some recent research has shown that intense training sessions that extend to 90minutes can actually lower immunity. With exercise it all seems to come down to finding balance. It's healthy to mix things up by choosing to alternate between moderate and more intense forms of exercise. The key is not doing all of one or the other, and making sure you give your body adequate rest. To be clear, moderate exercise is defined as things that would bring you into an aerobic zone to challenge your cardiovascular system. Think of it as activities that might make you break a sweat - a yoga or barre method class, brisk walking, mowing the lawn. Intense exercise includes things that might get you huffing and puffing into your anaerobic zone like distance running, taking an intense spin class, or aerobic dancing. The rest of keeping illness at bay isn't rocket science. You know the drill already: eat healthy, get enough sleep, make time for play, and for goodness sakes, wash your hands.
If your curious, here is an article on how to say, "bless you" in many different languages. And with that I say to you, "Gesundheit!" (literal translation: "To Health!")