Like many people, I’ve been sick a lot so far this year, and all those colds have really taken their toll on my fitness routine. As in…I just don’t freakin’ feel like working out if a simple task like climbing the stairs to my third-floor apartment makes me tired when I’m sick.
Needless to say, I generally don’t work out when I’m under the weather. What can I say - my mom always told me to rest until an illness passed. But after hearing more than one person sneezing and coughing last week at the gym (which is where I wager I caught my current nasty cold), I wondered if I have been wrong to take it easy while sick all these years. So I consulted the web for some answers, and found conflicting information.
To begin with, some of the articles I found claim that if you’re “sick above the neck” (aka a head cold), you’re good to go to the gym. But if you’re sick below the neck too (chest congestion, hacking cough), some experts say stay home (see these articles from the Mayo Clinic and Health magazine).
WebMD says continued training without recovery can lead to more illness due to decreased white blood cells in the body and increased amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which can compromise your immune system. Just while I was typing that, I thought about some of the ardent runners I know - several of them are often sick. Maybe they need to allow themselves a little recovery time.
The expert I most agreed with was Dr. Rick Kellerman in this CNN Health article. Kellerman says go ahead and rest when you’re sick. Further, don’t go back to working out at full speed once your symptoms have subsided. The story also mentions gyms are germ centers, and sick folks should stay away from the gym so they don’t spread viruses (*ahem* to the sickly fitness freaks at my LA Fitness gym).
Stay well, my friends.