Coming with the change of seasons and the children back in school sharing a host of germs you may be wondering whether or not you should be exercising when you don’t feel well. It is the rule of thumb – if the symptoms are above the neck it is okay to exercise but if the symptoms are below the neck – better to stay home and rest. Below the neck include severe congestion, stomach aches, hacking coughs, systemic symptoms - (fever, fatigue, muscle aches) it is better to rest and recover.
Most simply – fever, stay home.
If you have a fever your body is actively trying to fight off an infection and you will do no good to yourself by placing more stress on your body. REST – and do not share those contagious germs with others.
Colds, runny nose and light congestion – unless they really inhibit your breathing you can continue to exercise. According to some experts – you should begin the workout at about 50 percent intensity and if you feel stronger after the first 5 – 10 minutes increase to about 80 percent your normal intensity. If the symptoms do not improve use a mild to moderate intensity. Remember overdoing it will inhibit your immune system and prevent you from getting better.
Coughs – you can continue to exercise with an occasional dry cough however a cough that is productive, frequent and inhibits your breathing may be reason enough to rest. There are a few precautions when continuing to exercise with “above the neck” symptoms – hydrate , hydrate, hydrate - illness and over the counter medicine dehydrate your body and be mindful to wash your hands and the equipment before and after use so you do not further compromise your immune system and spread germs.
Remember – people who exercise regularly get fewer colds then their inactive peers.