During this time of year many of my students often ask me, is it OK to exercise when sick? Many of them seem to think that they can sweat out a cold or flu by doing vigorous workouts. This misinformation can lead to a serious setback and worsening conditions.
It is believed that light to moderate training can boost one's immune system function in the few hours after a workout; however, high intensity training can actually suppress the system for up to 24 hours after a workout. This can lead to a worsening of a cold and bring about conditions such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
I tell my students to follow a few guidelines when it comes to exercising when sick. First never workout when you have a fever. A fever can be a sign of a serious infection, and working out can deplete the body of the resources it needs to fight it, so even light workouts should be avoided at this time. Secondly, use the "neck check" theory. Dr. John M. Martinez, of the Coastal Sports and Wellness Medical Center advocates this in determining whether or not to exercise. If your symptoms are mild and isolated to the neck and above, such as a sore throat or the sniffles, then it's probably OK to do light workouts.
If however your symptoms have advanced to below the neck, such as fever, muscle aches and pain, heavy cough or stomach ailment, then you should not exercise.
Lastly, when you do decide to return to training, come back slowly at about 50 percent of your normal intensity and duration until you feel you are 100 percent. You should also allow more recovery time in between sessions, which your body will need when you are sick. The best advice is to listen to your body. For information about classes and services at Lombardi Rec, please call the main number, (775) 784-1225.