You’ve worked hard to build your running base, to establish and maintain your routine and you probably tenaciously resist any potential interruption. But, while some things are simply a matter of scheduling, there are times when even the most zealous runner needs to take a break.
During cold and flu season, it can be especially tempting to workout despite the sniffles or to rush back to the gym as soon as you can stand again. But should you? When should you bench yourself and when should you muscle through it? When is it safe to return to your fitness routine?
When It’s Safe
Writing for MayoClinic.com, Edward R. Laskowski, M.D. says that the rule of thumb for deciding whether or not it’s safe to exercise to consider where your symptoms start. If they’re “above the neck,” you clear. This includes symptoms like a running nose, sneezing or a minor sore throat.
Listen to your body, though, and consider decreasing the duration or intensity of your workout. A few days or these easier workouts won’t effect your overall performance once you’re up and moving again.
It’s encouraging to note that several studies suggest that, not only will a minor cold not slow you down but moderate exercise could even help you recover more quickly.
Exercise increases the speed at which disease-fighting white blood cells can travel through your body, allowing them to wipe out the cold faster. A good workout also stimulates the release of hormones that directly control your sleep cycle, helping you to sleep more soundly. This deep sleep gives your immune system time to repair itself and do some heavy lifting that doesn’t get accomplished during your waking hours.
When To Rest
The previously discussed rule of thumb, then, eliminates exercise when your symptoms are “below the neck,” like chest congestion, a hacking cough or digestive problems. Included in the list of symptoms that require a break are fever, widespread muscle aches and exhaustion.
Working out if you’re experiencing these symptoms could make them worse and slow your recovery time. If you have any doubts about whether or not it’s safe to workout, consult your doctor.
Getting Back To It
After days of laying in bed, you’re probably itching to get moving again. But, just because your fever’s gone and you only have a slight sniffle left over, you shouldn’t pick up right where you left off.
If you still have those “above the head” symptoms, keep your exercise to a moderate intensity even if that means jogging when you normally run or walking when you usually jog. Keep up this slower pace until you’re completely free of all symptoms.
Doctor Howard LeWine, of Harvard Health Publications, warns that viruses like the flu can weaken the heart to the point that strenuous exercise can cause serious damage even after the virus has passed. Stop exercising if you experience sudden exhaustion, difficulty breathing and tightness in your chest.
Have you struggle to maintain your fitness routine during cold and flu season? Please share your experience with us in the comments!