Sunday Sweat Talk {Exercising While Sick}

Morning! Did you remember to spring forward last night? I’m bummed about the lost hour of sleep, but totally psyched for sunnier afternoons as we approach springtime. It’s almost here!

Anyways, time for our Sunday chat.

Sunday Sweat Talk

Let’s talk about…

Exercising while sick

This week I’ve had a pretty nasty cold. It started on Wednesday afternoon at work while I was hibernating away in the tiniest of rooms preparing for the rollout of a new presentation called Be Remarkable. By the time I got home on Wednesday night, I felt achy and knew if I didn’t get a full night’s rest that I’d be feeling much worse. Since Thursday I had my 6am class, the presentation in the afternoon, and a wellness networking event at night, I knew that something had to give. I knew I just needed to listen to my body and get that extra hour or two of sleep, so I arranged for a friend to sub my Thursday morning class (thanks, Aloisia!). While it helped, I’ve still been sniffling, sneezing, and congested. Gross.

Because I haven’t been feeling 100%, I decreased the intensity of my workouts a bit this week. I mean, it’s awfully hard to power through a tough sweat sesh when you can’t breathe.

Here’s how my week in workouts looked:

Weekly Workouts

  • Sunday: Gym date with my friend Ashley. I lifted for chest/back and did my medicine ball ab circuit.
  • Monday: 30 minutes on the spin bike on my own + three rounds of the stability ball core strength moves from this workout <—I did the ab moves in a 15/12/10 rep scheme, and they left my abs sore the next day for those of you who commented last week you love sore abs!
  • Tuesday: Two A Day Tuesday. I did a modified kickboxing then taught a very loose Tabata class in my class. I say “loose” because I was definitely not doing a good job keeping track of time.
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Rest (not feeling well)
  • Friday: 50 minutes steady cardio (was craving that to work through some of my congestion)
  • Saturday: At home fitness DVD instead of heavier lifting (decreased time and intensity)

So how do I decide whether to rest or exercise when I’m not feeling well?

Typically I go by what I like to call “the neck check.” If the symptoms of my sickness are located above the neck, then I usually will continue to exercise.

Above the neck symptoms include:
–a sore throat
–sneezing
–a stuffy nose
–headache

However, if the symptoms of my sickness are located below the neck, I will declare it a rest day not only to give myself proper time to recover and feel better, but also so I don’t contaminate the gym and equipment with my germs!

Below the neck symptoms include:
–chest congestion / bad coughing
–fever
–stomachache
–body aches
–fatigue

When I do exercise through any above the neck symptoms, I definitely decrease the intensity of my workouts like I mentioned in my workout log above. I stick with lighter to moderate intensity so I can still work up a sweat and try to drain some nasal congestion without overdoing it. I know that pushing too hard with heavy and intense exercise may actually reduce my immune function, make me feel worse, and delay my feeling better. Exercising at max intensity with above the neck symptoms is never my goal!

Of course, everyone is different, so the best recommendation I have is to just listen to your body, stay hydrated, and rest up so you can jump back into it in no time.

Readers, time to talk! Is anyone else battling that cold that’s going around? What’s your general rule of thumb for working out while sick? Does anyone else abide by the neck check?

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16 thoughts on “Sunday Sweat Talk {Exercising While Sick}

  1. Hope you are feeling better! Great tip with the “neck check”. I generally abide by that rule too. Our whole house just got over something similar to what you described. Blah! I know both me and my hubs were ITCHING to get back to full force workouts. Here’s to a healthy spring!! πŸ™‚

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  2. I hope you are feeling better soon!!
    I tend to go by how I feel – sometimes I think that I can push through a workout and about 5-10 minutes in I realize that it will just make things worse.

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  3. I hope you are feeling better! I just got sick myself… Yesterday afternoon I felt the faintest hint of a sore throat, and then a couple hours later I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Body aches, killer sore throat, headache, fatigue, etc. I couldn’t even think about working out today! I like the above-the-neck rule too, as long as you listen to your body and quit when necessary!

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  4. I wrote a post on this a while back when I was struggling with it. Everyone always tells me to rest, but I think it’s mostly because they use being sick (like, a runny nose) to skip a workout. For me, if I feel physically fine (no body aches/head ache/stomach ache) and can breathe, I’m going to work out. But, like you, I do decrease my intensity!

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