Just when you are going strong with your resolutions and getting in the groove of regular exercise, you wake up one day with a scratchy throat and runny nose. Should you go ahead with your plan to go to the gym?
The general rule of thumb is this: If your symptoms are “above the neck” such as the common cold, runny nose, sneezing, etc., with no fever, it is usually fine to go ahead with your usual workout. In fact, it may make you feel better. You may want to do an easier version of your usual routine, such as a brisk walk instead of a run. You also may want to reduce your intensity and/or duration. An easy workout may make you feel better while an intense workout will probably make you feel worse.
If your symptoms are “below the neck” such as congestion in your chest, hacking cough or a queasy stomach, muscle aches (not from exercise) take the day off and rest. If you have a fever, definitely take the day off from exercise and rest.
Listen to your body and do what it tells you to do. If all you feel like doing is crawling under a blanket on the couch, then maybe that is what your body needs.
If the illness you are experiencing is lack of motivation, make a pact with yourself that you will just go for five minutes, and that if you still don’t feel like doing it, you can stop. If after five minutes you really feel bad, give yourself permission to quit. By then, you should know if you are feeling up to it or not. When in doubt, scale back or skip your workout altogether. Tomorrow is another day.
Kim Hartmann, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer
Source: Edward R. Laskowski, M.D. (mayoclinic.com)