Exercising when sick?

Should I exercise when I am sick?   How vigorously should I exercise?   Will it make me more unwell?   Should I exercise at all?

The first thing that can be affected by the common cold or more seriously the flu, is your exercise regime.

Exercise with a cold is often ok and may help to alleviate some of the common side effects such as nasal congestion. However, exercising with a fever should be done with caution as raising your body temperature internally if you already have a fever, can make you even more unwell. Most people who are fit tend to feel worse if they stop exercising, but if you have got a bad case of the flu and can’t lift your head off the pillow, then chances are you won’t want to go run around the block.

A general rule to follow is if your symptoms are above the neck, including a sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, and tearing eyes, then it’s OK to exercise. If your symptoms are below the neck, such as coughing, body aches, fever, and fatigue, then it’s time to rest until these symptoms subside. Let your body be your guide as symptoms can be different for everyone.

If you do choose to exercise when you are sick, its recommended that you consult an Exercise Physiologist to work out what intensity your workout should be completed at, the length of your workout and the frequency of exercise. If you attempt to exercise at your normal intensity, duration and frequency when unwell, you risk developing a more serious injury or illness.

The best way to avoid the problem is not to get sick in the first place!!

Exercise in general can help boost your body’s natural defences against illness and infection. Thirty minutes of regular exercise three to four times a week has been shown to raise immunity by raising levels of T cells, which are one of the body’s first defences against infection.

But what exercise is best? Can performing a resistance based program actually help your immune system? The answer is YES! This is because our muscle fibres are made up of proteins and secrete protein based chemicals into the body called cytokines. Cytokines have been found to reduce low level inflammation in the body.

It is clear that exercise is important for our health and energy levels, so stopping when not necessary or exercising incorrectly can be detrimental to your health. To find out what exercise is safe and effective for you and your health, come in and see our Exercise Physiologist Sally Meagher.

Please note: This is general information and may not be suitable for some people. We recommend seeing an Accredited Exercise Physiologist to find out the specific do’s and don’ts of your own exercise regime. An Accredited Exercise Physiologist is an allied health professional who specialises in the delivery of exercise for the prevention and management of illness, chronic disease and injuries.