It's that time of year again. The flu and cold and all the other sicknesses are circulating the air. With coughs and sneezes seemingly following us into the office and the classroom and even the grocery store, few places feel safe. Some of us will avoid sickness and keep healthy all winter long. For those of us who aren't as lucky though, there is one question at the forefront of our minds:
Should we exercise when we're sick?
While we're not doctors (and if you're sick you should definitely see and take the advice of your doctor), there is one thing we can all agree upon:
When sick, rest is essential for your body to heal.
As frustrating as it can be to skip a few days or even a week of workouts because of that nasty flu, you're doing your body a favor by giving it rest. You're also keeping your potentially contagious virus and germs away from other healthy gym attendees. (they say 'thank you')
There are some things you CAN do for your body when fighting off a virus though--some of them are even physical. Here's what we recommend:
1. Listen to Your Body
Before engaging in any (seriously, any) physical activity, ask your body what it needs. More importantly, LISTEN to your body. Don't push yourself if you're feeling tired or sore or light-headed. Pack away the 'push through it' gym mantras and be kind to yourself while you heal. You may not be able to see what is happening on the outside, but your immune system is fighting an exhausting battle internally. If your body wants to rest, it needs rest. So give it rest.
2. Stay Hydrated
Although you're probably laying in bed all day, your body still needs a lot of water. In fact, it requires about as much water as it would on a normal active day. Fluids are essential for fighting off a virus, so drink up.
3. Do Some Yoga (At Home)
Toward the end of your sickness and as you begin to feel better, you may be up for some light stretching or even a gentle yoga flow. For the sake of others, wait to practice at the gym until you're feeling 100%. Instead, roll your mat out and do some light movements in the comfort of your home.
4. Go for a Walk
Another activity you may feel up for in the final days of your virus is a short outdoor walk. In fact, getting some fresh air after time spent cooped up in bed may be just what your body needs to push through the final hours of healing. Just take it slow and remember to listen to your body. This isn't the day to set any speed records.