The past few days I have been living the glamorous life of pajamas, elixirs, juices, essential oils, tea and bouts of unexplainable sweating. Don’t be jealous my friends. This isn’t the fab life of some swanky day spa, nope. This is a plague of epic proportions or what is more commonly known as a cold. And I was down for the count. I’m not sure if I was delusional, but the only memories I have of the beginning of the week are visions of Judge Judy cooking a delicious pot roast and snippets of Rachael Ray yelling at a guy for peeing on her leg and claiming it was raining. For 3 solid days I was down for the count. But the angels of illness had mercy on me and I am finally feeling somewhat normal again. Now that I can breathe through both nostrils again, I decided to head to the gym and hopefully sweat out the rest of the toxins. On my way to the gym I had a thought… is it ok to workout when you are sick and more importantly, how are some ways that I can avoid getting sick again?
According to a recent study sponsored by the American College of Sports Medicine, they found that exercising moderately while you have a common cold doesn’t affect the severity or duration of the symptoms. However, working out at a high intensity had a negative impact on the immune system during an illness.
So, when is it safe to workout if I feel cruddy?
Well first off, you have to be the one to make that decision. If you feel so sick that the thought of tying your shoes seems exhausting, then maybe it’s time to stay in bed. It is a scary thought to imagine all of your gains withering away as you rest but TRUST ME – YOU WILL NOT LOSE YOUR GAINS UNLESS YOU STAY IN BED FOR WEEKS ON END. A few days of recovery will do your body some good and once you are back to 100%, you can go HAM in the gym again.
If you are not sure if you are contagious or just being kind of a baby, here are a few guidelines of when to take the day off:
If you are experiencing the following, exercise is NOT recommended
If you are experiencing the following, exercise at a MODERATE level is a-okay
Sore, scratchy throat
A good rule of thumb is, if your symptoms are above the neck – workout, what the heck? If the symptoms are from the neck or below, it’s time to just lie low. (see what I did there – I’m a poet even in my time of great illness).
What can I do to avoid getting sick again?
This time of year (and the next 6 months – yuck), our environment is basically a Petri dish. Offices, schools, daycares, gyms, bathrooms, everything is a sespool of germs just waiting to invade your body. Those little body snatchers can’t wait for you to give them a home. Sorry, I think that may have been a step over the line, but it’s true. The EPA should shut down everything during cold and flu season leaving us with more time to Netflix and chill. Sounds like a plan to me, but I doubt that will happen. So what can you do when you are living in a germ box the next few months?
Mr. Clean and the Brawny Guy
What do Mr. Clean and the Brawny guy have in common other than an epic set of pipes? They clean!!!! This is the best way for you to NOT get sick. Clean your personal space and for the love of God, clean everything before your touch in the gym. Do you think Sally Snotrag wiped down the treadmill after she sneezed all over it? Who knows? So before you sit on a bench, grab a dumbbell or jump on a machine, wipe that stuff off!
Your hands touch everything! Every surface that you touch is an opportunity for germ to make it into your body. Think about it. Grab a door handle – scratch your nose. Shake a hand at lunch – eat a sandwich. How do you stop it? WASH YOUR HANDS – A LOT!!! The cleaner your hands, the less chance for you to catch what other have. And don’t just do a quick rinse down. That is not good enough. Soap up, lather long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” the whole way through and rinse. I learned this one in elementary school and I still do it to this day – just not out loud. You might get weird looks for that. **If you don’t have the opportunity to wash your hands, carry hand sanitizer that contains AT LEAST 60% alcohol to keep your hands germ free.
Look but don’t touch
According to J. Owen Hendley, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, 35% of everything we touch is contaminated with a cold virus. Pens, door handles, remotes, elevator buttons. Gross! And what is even grosser is that a cold virus can live up to 24 hours on said surface. Now you will think twice when walking past the sanitary wipe station when you grab your shopping cart huh? If you don’t have to touch a public surface like escalator rails, tabletops and hand rails – don’t’. But of you do, don’t touch your face, eyes or mouth until you have headed to the bathroom and sang “Happy Birthday”….twice.
Celly – Oh No!
Yep, I have to go there. Cell phones are NASTY!!!! When you are sick in bed, you play on your phone leaving traces of your sickness all over it. You set it down on the gym floor between sets where people leave puddles of sweat. And we all do it – you go into a pubic bathroom and facey-spacey it up while you take care of business. Have I made my point? Cell phones are the germiest of all the germ boxes in all of nasty land. ***Shiver***. After you finish reading my post, the first thing I want you to do is grab and anti-bac wipe and scrub down your cell phone. Your health, and sanity, will thank you for it. And PS – do this daily!
Now that I have told you when a workout is safe if you are feeling under the weather and some easy tips on how to not get sick, I am left with a thought….what did I do wrong?