I started feeling the tinges of a cold coming on a little over a week ago. I immediately began my normal “fight the cold” tricks that typically nip it in the bud. Extra EmergenC powder in my water bottles, Zinc, a little more vitamin C, downing even more water, and these absolutely awful tasting Cold Eze drops that are supposed to shorten the length and minimize the oncoming cold, and, of course, the all important Neti Pot with saline. I did ALL of this and still found myself on the couch for days and days . . .
Hanging lots with these two.
Ugh. Of course, what began as a mere cold, which The Husband actually caught – and he hasn’t been sick in about twenty years – for me, turned into that dreaded sinus infection. I tend to fight these awful sinus infections every. single. year. I take all of the precautions to prevent it and I am obviously just not smart enough to stop the train wreck from happening. I have also found that it is a 10 day deal whether I go to the doctor or not. So, as usual I have lost the last 10 days walking around in a fog, spending far too much time attempting to rest and recover, trying to fake it and be all peppy as I attempted to get through teaching my fitness classes or even cancelling some sessions.
Today I woke up from actually haveing a normal night of sleep, so thought it might make me feel better to get in a workout with a good sweat. Yesterday, I slipped into a yoga class thinking it might help, but I am telling you, down dog is not a lot of fun when you can’t breathe and all your fluids end up in your nose. . . The class did not make me feel better, but it also didn’t make me feel worse so surely I thought today would be the day to move forward and actually push myself a bit.
That was the plan when I headed into the gym. I had a plan to warm up for 20 minutes on the Precor and then head to the weight room for some legs and core work. I did get in the workout I had planned, but I admit it just wasn’t good. Not to whine, but I still did not feel good. I left feeling less than good and not very accomplished.
So, here’s the question I do get sometimes.
Is it crazy to exercise when sick?
Even if you are all set for a great workout, you have on your favorite leggings, gotten all psyched to work out, and even with all the “mind over matter” and thoughts of “Just Do It”, sometimes your body simply says, “not today”. These are the times to listen to your body for your own body’s sake.
There are a lot of reasons to work out. I used to exercise for all sorts of reasons, and sadly, they all didn’t have to do with health and wellness. Today I know that health comes BEFORE fitness. In order to keep your health your number one priority, sometimes listening to your body is the best medicine. Sometimes your body will tell you to rest and recover and other times it will tell you to go for the sweat.
The old fashioned rule is that if it’s stomach up, meaning likely a cold, it’s okay to get moving. If it’s stomach down, like nauseau, diarrhea, vomiting, you get it, then it’s best to get back in bed. (As if you could actually get in a work out with those symptoms!)
However, gym etiquette does dictate you should keep your workout quarantined to your home. When you have a cold, you’re typically contagious for about five full days, and your germs spread most easily during your two to three most symptomatic days, says Michael P. Angarone, DO, assistant professor of infectious diseases and medical education at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Cold germs can live on hard surfaces like dumbbells for hours. And, get this, even if you wash your hands, sweat can carry snot particles down your face and onto equipment. (Insert heebie jeebies here.)
Unless you count sprinting to the bathroom as a workout, you’ll need to hold off until you feel better.
Diarrhea and vomiting — frequently caused by the norovirus (aka the stomach flu) — can result in severe fluid loss and dehydration, according to Angarone. Breaking a sweat can further exacerbate fluid loss, leading to symptoms ranging from dry skin to a rapid heartbeat. While you might need one bottle of water to fuel you during a regular workout, it could take three or more to keep you hydrated when you are suffering from stomach issues. And there’s no good way to know how much you need, he says.
What’s more, the norovirus and other stomach-churning germs are highly contagious and can live on hard surfaces until unsuspecting gym-goers pick them up, Angarone says. If you feel well enough to keep moving despite your symptoms, Stokes says stretching (at home) is safe. Easing any muscle tension with a foam roller might also help you feel better.
You Have a Fever or the Flu
Take meds and stay in bed, please. Working out with a fever can make your health way worse, Stokes says. That’s largely because a fever, like vomiting, can cause workout-wrecking dehydration.
Even more concerning, high temperatures (101 degrees and up) have been linked to heart damage. And exercising through a fever can raise your risk of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that may result in heart dysfunction, failure or sudden death, Stokes says. “It’s not common, but it is possible and good reason not to push yourself.”
Angarone recommends resting until your fever has been gone for a full 24 hours, without the help of any fever-reducing medications like ibuprofen. If you have the flu, it will likely take three to five days for your symptoms to let up. Don’t forget that your fever, muscle aches, and other pains are often signs that your body is trying to fight off a virus. So if you make your body split its energy and resources between the infection and exercise, you will likely be sick longer, he says.
This week, with my head pounding, lethargy, and sinus stuff going on, I didn’t push myself or place high demands on my body, and tried to treat these days as basic rest days or active recovery days. I’m sure I’ll be able to tell the difference when I do feel like going full force ahead. Even only one week will cause a loss of strength.
When I have a bug that’s not a stomach thing, I tend to eat more. I’m not really sure. I think it must be something about nourishing myself with healthy foods. I tend to cook with a little more spice, too, to help clear the head. This is a great Mexican Chicken soup I made with some added turmeric and garlic to help fend off the inflammation. (Recipe coming this week!)
Eggs are always a staple in my fridge – quick, healthy, filling and so good.
I hydrate, hydrate and hydrate some more. I love this apple cider with its refreshing limeade flavor.
I also enjoyed catching up on some of my favorite magazines . . . a little bit of everything!
And I also got more rest than I would ever want on a normal day. That is, when I could, with this big guy hogging the bed and giving me the eye.
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Joy while tackling a sinus infection
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