Everyone gets sick, it’s part of life. We know that exercise is good for our health, though, so exercising when sick is okay, right? Yes, and no! It depends on how sick you are, the type of sickness, how long you’ve been sick for, and on the type of exercise.
The body’s immune system is strong and it works hard to prevent sickness. But with so much affecting immunity, getting sick is expected. What affects our immunity?
- Ongoing intense exercise
- Training age
To name a few! But let’s focus on exercise.
Consistent exercise, including resistance (weight) training and short, high intensity workouts may improve immunity over time. So when you’re healthy, train hard! However, a long and intense session such as a triathlon may depress the immune system for a few days. That is why it’s important to include ‘easy,’ short, and recovery days in your training regimen.
That is the approach to staying healthy through exercise, though. What do you do when you get sick? Let the symptoms be your guide.
- Remember that you’re constantly being to different forms of stress: psychological, work, family, environmental, training, etc.). You may need some time out to recover. Practising mindfulness while switching off from all forms of stimulation help.
- If you have a cold with symptoms like coughing, sore throat, runny or blocked nose, exercise should be fine but keep it low to moderate intensity and relatively short.
- Avoid all forms of exercise if you have muscle or joint pain, fever, fatigue, diarrhoea and vomiting.
While I can advise you on exercise, it’s not my place to suggest when you should see a doctor. In general, trust your instinct. If you feel like a trip to the doc is needed, do so!
Remember, health and fitness is a lifelong journey. The aim is to stay healthy and active forever so we need to develop a healthy approach to training, and that includes resting from exercise. A few days of, often, isn’t much when we’re looking at forever!