ACHOOO: I have a cold: workout or rest?

Laura sickIt’s that time of year and at Jaime Andrews Fitness, a boutique fitness training studio located in Logan Circle, Washington DC, we’re going through a box of Kleenex a week! When the winter months set in, I often get asked if it’s better to push through the symptoms of the common cold or take time off to rest and recover.

When you’re feeling under the weather, exercise is often the last thing you feel like doing, but in some cases, light to moderate activity may actually help you feel better! On the flip side, when your body is already under a lot of stress, pushing it do more, strenuous work may not be the best idea. The answer is generally a personal decision, but here are a few recommendations to consider:

    • Use the “Neck Rule”: if your symptoms are “above the neck,” such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, or sore throat, its fine to work out. If your symptoms are below your neck, such as chest congestion, hacking cough, upset stomach, fever, muscle aches or swollen lymph nodes, take some time off.
    • Focus on certain exercises while avoiding others such as walking, jogging, yoga and dance instead of heavy weight lifting, endurance running and outdoor activities.
    • If you continue to exercise, keep very well hydrated! Illness and the medications taken to treat illness can predispose you to dehydration so no matter what type of symptoms you have, it’s very important to drink plenty of fluids.
    • If you work out in a public gym or health club facility, be extra vigilant about cleaning equipment before and after you use it. Try to use machines away from other people to avoid spreading your illness (or catching another bug that someone else might have).

Bottom line: Listen to your body! It can be frustrating to take time off, but when you’re not feeling 100%, you’re also not performing at 100%. Dial it back a bit, focus on low intensity activity and give your body time to heal! You’ll be back to your old self, and your workouts, sooner!