It’s happened. I think I finally have to admit to myself that i’m sick. I’ve been feeling a bit rough the past couple weeks, but it never seemed to really, fully develop into a major cold. Now, I think my luck has run out. I fit a workout in this morning, but I took it much easier than normal. So the question is, when you’re sick, when should you put on your big boy pants and get to the gym and when should you call in sick?
If You’re Running a Fever
If you find that you are running a fever you should definitely be at home, in bed. The danger in exercising when you have a fever is raising your internal body temperature more than it already is, which can make you even sicker. If your temperature is 101 degrees Fahrenheit, skip the gym and keep up on your fluid intake.
The Neck Check
Another good rule when deciding whether or not it is advisable to hit the gym is where your symptoms are located. If your symptoms are above the neck, sore throat, tearing eyes, nasal congestion, or sneezing, you are probably okay to workout. Any symptoms below the neck, including bronchial tightness, coughing, body aches, fever, and fatigue then you should probably give your body time to rest and recover from whatever it is trying to fight off.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
The best way to avoid all of these maladies is to not get sick in the first place. Exercise can actually boost your body’s defenses 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 defenses against infection. Also, being vigilant in washing your hands correctly and often can help stop the spread of germs. Carry some antibacterial gel in your pocket and actually use it!
If You Do Decide to Hit the Gym….
One of my major pet peeves is when someone doesn’t wipe down their equipment after they use it. But, alas, the people who fail to wipe down their machines aren’t likely to change their behavior anytime soon, so i’ve gotten into the habit of ALWAYS wiping down my equipment before I use it. This is an especially good rule when you’re already sick, with a lowered immunity the last thing you need is to pick up another random cold bug floating on the elliptical machine. If you’re sick and you’re blowing your nose, please, I beg you, use the hand sanitizer when you finish, every time! Basically, if you’re fighting something off and decide to use the gym, please just be courteous to your other gym goers by trying to minimize the spreading of germs.
Looks like i’m going to be out of the game for a couple days, but if you’re feeling sick, please be sure to contact your doctor to get a proper diagnosis before proceeding with any type of exercise. Wishing you all the best, health and happiness, happy 2014 everyone!
Shannon Benedetto ACSM-cpt