Illness and Exercise: the Dilemma
With the crazy Kansas weather swinging from snowing to 70 degrees to frost on car windows in the span of a long weekend, seems like everyone I know is battling some sort of sickness. How does a sniffley gym-mouse know when to suck it up and when to call it quits?
Above the Neck
Only have a headache, stuffy nose and sneezing? If symptoms appear “above the neck,” there’s no reason to stop exercising, damnitall. Moderate exercise many unfortunately relieve mild symptoms and give the immune system a slight boost to help fight off minor illnesses. Notice: moderate, mild, and minor. If exercise makes symptoms worse, back off.
Below the Neck
Chest congestion, painful coughing, fever, body aches or fatigue? You’re in luck! No exercise for you! Take the day (or a few days) off. Rest and unrestrained couch surfing recovery represent vital aspects of a healthy fitness routine. Maybe your body desperately craves rest. My annoying body does this on a semi-regular basis, most recently, the better part of last week. “You won’t rest? I’ll make you so sick, you’re forced to rest!” Thanks body, appreciate it.
Protein Cannibalism Catabolism
Ever wondered why your muscles ache when you’re ill? Oh, the useless interesting things you learn while “researching.”
Normally the body derives most of its energy from fat and glucose (stored carbohydrates). However, when we get feverish, it starts breaking down muscle protein to help fuel the fight against infection. The amount of protein loss, or muscle catabolism, directly relates to how high and long the fever is maintained. No wonder muscles feel sore when you’re sick, your body literally eats away at them.
Dealt with sickness and exercise this winter? Have any illness-related workout policies? Ditch the gym at the first sniffle? Refuse to abandon the gym despite that pesky stomach virus?
- “Exercise and the Common Cold.” WebMD. 25 Sept 2009. WebMD, LLC. 9 March 2012.
- Harrison, A. Marc, MD. “Scare Tactics to Prevent you From Exercising While Sick.” Active.com. 2011. Active Network, Inc. 9 March 2011.
- Laskowski, Edward R., MD. “Exercise and illness: Work out with a cold?” Mayo Clinic. 18 June 2011. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 9 March 2012.
Photo credit: Jaysun via Flickr
In case any of you labored under false impressions, I am not a doctor. This post compiles my personal experience and education, as well as some research from the all-knowing interwebs. It should never replace the advice of people who actually know what they’re talking about trained, licensed doctors or professionals.