Health Spotlight: Working Out While You’re Sick
When you’re sick, sometimes the best thing for your body may be a work out – or at least, you think so. But then your body decides that it’s just not having it. A fever, runny nose and shortness of breath can definitely make a workout challenging. We’re all for pushing yourself when it’s laziness that’s holding you back, but there are times when heading to spin class or the weight room can do your body more harm than good.
Whether you’ve got the sniffles or the full-on flu, here’s what you need to know about when you should hit the gym – or if you’re better off crawling under the covers.
Working out with a Cold
It’s pretty safe to say that if you don’t have a fever, a runny nose is no reason to skip a workout. Instead, scale back your intensity. Restless nights can stunt muscle strength and a stuffed-up nose can make cardio a struggle. So you may need to tone it down a bit or modify the intensity to work around being sick. 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. 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.
Working out with a Stomach Bug
What about if you have a stomach bug? 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. What’s more, the norovirus and other stomach-churning germs are highly contagious and can live on hard surfaces.
Working out with a Fever or the Flu
If you have a fever or the flu, take medicine and stay in bed. Working out with a fever can make your health way worse. That’s largely because a fever, like vomiting, can cause terrible 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. 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 so don’t be discouraged if it takes a few workouts to get back to where you used to be. Remember, listen to your body, and if you’ve got a fever or a stomach bug, be sure to rest. You can visit a Myocarditis charity if you would like to learn more.