You have been down with the fever the past couple of days, but you insist with your plan to report to the gym later this afternoon. After all, you don’t want sickness to get in the way of your goal of having a six-pack abs by the end of the year. Is that a good decision?
In the pursuit of well-sculpted abdominals or a slimmer body, many gym goers tend to overexert themselves even when they are sick. Stories of athletes overcoming injuries and winning in the end may have influenced this line of thinking. Think of how Michael Jordan won a game for the Chicago Bulls back then even when he was so sick and dehydrated. But even professional athletes will have to pay for overexerting their bodies and working out while they are sick.
The general rule of thumb is that you should not work out if you have a fever. If your body temperature is more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, skip the gym for the day until you are better. According to experts, exercising will only make you sicker as it will further raise your body temperature. This is because the heart works doubly harder when we have a fever, and the body’s metabolism is accelerated as well.
Exercising with a high body temperature can also make you more prone to dehydration. In extreme cases, you could be at risk of heart failure.
If you have a case of low-grade fever (100 degrees Fahrenheit or lower), then you can go to the gym as long as you don’t overdo your exercises. Studies have proven that moderate and frequent exercises can increase the levels of the T cells of the immune system. This explains why people who regularly exercise are less likely to get colds than those who live a sedentary lifestyle.
But there’s also a downside to that. While moderate exercises can boost your immune system, it can also cause an increase in your stress hormones. If you engage in high-intensity activity while having a low grade fever, your immunity might suffer. This is seen in most marathoners who experience the ‘marathon sniffles’ which they go through three days after participating in a marathon. Exercising while sick is very dangerous because there’s a chance that the virus can spread to the muscles and result to heart muscle damage.
One way to determine if you should stay at home or go to the gym like Fitness 19 or Equinox is to use the so-called neck check. This simply means assessing your symptoms. If the symptoms are above the neck like sneezing and coughing, then it is alright to exercise. On the other hand, if you suffer from symptoms affecting parts of your body below the neck like body aches, then you should just stay home.
Taking It Easy
You might be able to take some medications for colds to make you feel better and allow you to go back to the gym. But if the colds really makes you feel bad or lethargic, you can opt for other exercises like brisk walking instead of running. You may also have to turn things slower by engaging in other activities like yoga or Pilates.
Granted that you passed the neck test, you should still take things easy. You may do so by cutting the duration of your exercises, or slowing down the pace of your activities. If your colds are bothering you, start working out at an intensity level of 50 percent. Once you feel that the symptoms improve in the first 10 minutes, you can gradually jack up the length and intensity levels by as much as 90 percent of your normal routine.
Think of Others
Gyms are public places, and if you insist on going to your favorite fitness center despite having a bald cold then the least you can do is to protect other people from getting the virus. So you must avoid joining the group classes. If you can’t help it, at least participate when there are only a handful of people around.
You can avoid passing those germs by wiping down gym equipment like the treadmill, barbells, and gym mat. Pick a machine or work out in a spot that is away from other people. You should cover your mouth when you are coughing or sneezing. And keep your hands off your face after handling any gym equipment as you may pick up more germs that will infiltrate your body and make you more sick.
Lastly, be considerate of others. If you can’t really avoid sneezing or coughing then you might have to cut your workout and go home. The last thing you want to happen is someone telling you to go home because of fear that he or she may get sick too because of the virus you have transmitted.