It's pretty much the most disappointing feeling ever when you're ready to kill your new cardio routine at the gym, and then bam -- you're hit with clogged sinuses and a throat as sore as your booty after leg day. You still want to hit the gym anyway, but you're hesitant because you're not really sure if you should work out with a cold, especially when your nose won't stop dripping and your voice is practically gone.
So, is it really safe to push your body with exercise when you're feeling under the weather?
First, let's talk about how a regular workout routine affects the likelihood that you'll get sick in the first place.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), there is a 25 to 50 percent decrease in sick time for people who regularly engage in exercise as simple as walking for 45 minutes throughout the week.
In fact, the ACSM says the protection that regular exercise offers can be even stronger than what you might get from an over-the-counter drug.
So, what gives? You exercise on the reg, but you're still getting sick anyway.
It may be because you're simply pushing your body past its reasonable limits.
Elite Daily spoke with personal trainer Paola Marquez to get the low-down on sweating it out when you're sick.
When we get sick, our immune system starts fighting those microorganisms that are harmful to our well-being -- viruses and bacteria -- creating stress in our bodies. In the same way, a strenuous workout routine creates stress in our system; but this time, we're talking about the right kind of stress (the one that makes us fitter over time). However, high-intensity workout routines interfere with our immune system's capacity to fight pathogens.
Marquez recommends doing only non-strenuous activities when you're sick (such as walking, jogging, or yoga), because those kinds of activities have been proven to boost your immune system, and they don't involve too harsh of a strain on the rest of your body.
If your symptoms are more serious -- like vomiting, dizziness, or a fever -- you should stay home and rest until you've fully recovered.
Personal trainer Holly Rilinger seems to be on the same page as Marquez, highlighting the importance of tuning into your body's signals and really paying attention to any potential red flags.
She tells Elite Daily,
The first thing I would say is listen to your body. Many times when we are sick, it's because we are run-down. Our body is fighting something, and any energy we give away will reduce the amount of energy we have to fight off that bug.
Rilinger stresses it's not the end of the world to take a day off from your usual workout routine -- a concept even she says took her years to finally accept.
She also has a great, quick rule of thumb to refer to if you're ever unsure of whether it's safe to hit the gym when you're sick: If your sickness is above the head, you're probably good to go. But below the head? Stay home and recharge.
Furthermore, exercising with a fever could raise your already elevated body temperature and cause worsened sickness and complications.
All in all, Rilinger reminds us "rest is the unsung hero of wellness," and we should never, ever forget that.