Illness and Exercise: the Dilemma

Maybe these will help?

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?


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.


2 Comments on “Illness and Exercise: the Dilemma

  1. Thank you Kiya for putting research time into this sick learning experience for us faithful readers. 🙂 The muscle breakdown during fever is alarming news. I want my muscles. I worked hard and paid a lot for them.

    In regards to your “medical doctor” or expertness disclaimer, let me share a recent experience. The local hospital provides office space for a doctor of osteopathy. I went to him for a second opinion about arthritis especially knees. During my first visit he yawned twice as I related my problems, he gave me some condescending nods and asked me what the first doctor said. I related what I remembered and he told the first doctor was correct. I felt the first doctor’s suggestion of eventual knee replacement was drastic. He suggested an expensive shot that might work for a while and set up a second visit for it. I returned and got my shot and asked him for more information on osteoarthritis. He said, “You can find that on wikipedia”. This surprised me. This reliance of a medical professional on patient directed internet research bears out the validity of self guided medical care for current best practices in medicine. You are on track. P.S. The shot did help. It was a synthetic lubricant fluid injected into the cartilage space.

  2. Pingback: January Monthly Mission – Protein & Carbs Are Friends | Runs with Blisters

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