To sweat or not to sweat (the dos and donts of working out when your sick)

AHHH- CHOO! Get your Kleenex handy; it’s is cold and flu season, again. But why? How come we associate cold weather and winter with sickness?
I do want to preface this post by saying that I’m not only a nutritionist but fitness expert to boot. Although The Food Athlete focus is on my knowledge of applying nutrition to your lifestyle, I can’t just ignore the fitness aspect of this partnership. It is always going to come down to balance. I’m weighing in today more specifically on the activity side of health and heading into this New Year this is the perfect time to introduce some wellness tips. So, that being said shall we get back to some dos and donts of working out with the sniffles? Fab!
My mom would forbid me to leave the house with wet hair; she’d say: “you’ll catch your death..” Dramatic much? Let’s clear some things up; we can’t get an illness from the temperature inside, or outside for that matter. A few circumstances have to be happening to contract germs. Let’s be clear though; regular exercise will boost your immune system and reduce your chances of catching a cold altogether. Next piece of news, although the temperature itself isn’t the culprit of a virus, the air it’s circulating in can be. When there is a chill out there, make sure wherever your exercising there’s enough clean ventilation. We only have control over so much without turning into sanitizing, mask wearing, paranoid human beings.  When that pesky infection sneaks past fighter cells what can you do? Sometimes the show must go on. I can’t just cancel teaching a fitness class because my nose is running. But when is it just plain inconsiderate to workout when you're sick, and when is it smart to sweat out those buggy toxins? 


1: Jog a Cold or Throw on your Slippers: First, a quick assessment. Are your symptoms above or below your neck? Are you experiencing a sore throat and runny nose, then sure, do your thing, as tolerated. Consider your intensity and duration.  Are you having trouble catching your breath, coughing that feels like a bronchial situation? Does your body ache, legs, torso? You're possibly incubating a fever. Sorry friend, you need to sit this one out. It sounds like it may be the flu. 

2: Breathe Baby Breathe: Oxygen, not just crucial to stay alive, but efficient breathing technique can boost cellular activity. Athletes need to be firing on all cylinders when tackling a workout. Your muscles require a generous amount of O2 to maintain energy production. Try this test run. Breathe in for a full count of ten, and out for another ten. Notice if you're light-headed. Does an inhale trigger a coughing spasm? Are you so clogged up your face hurts from swollen sinuses and being inverted might make you pass out? Once your all clear take some extra precautions especially if you're out in the chilly air, bundle up in layers, and protect your neck with a scarf.

3: Train Smarter Not Harder:  Sound familiar? It should; it’s often preached by us fitness professionals. Apply this to making an executive decision when you are battling sickness. But “Jessi, I don’t want to miss my workout,” it’s o.k. just choose a kinder gentler exercise. A no-or low-impact exercise. Have you tried yoga or chi gong? Try a swim or go for a mellow cycle. Hey, see me at The Studio MDR, and I will help you to modify the class that day, (if you're not incubating cold that is).  This situation may call for the foam roller! Check out some smart ways to stretch using this method here. Avoid high-intensity type activities like lifting heavy weights or super hot classrooms or workouts that raise your body temp.

4: Don’t Add Injury to Insult: So, bummer your not feeling well. Is it worth the risk of injury? Be thoughtful in your decision making. Are you taking medications? Let's not push around heavy dumbbells, or even hang upside down on silks if your brain is in a fogged state. Don't put yourself in jeopardy tempting to strain muscles. Also, best not to worsen whatever infection you may have caught. When you're sick for days and muscles, have weakened, be sure to ease back into your regular workout routine. Your brain sometimes says yes but this is when listening to your body first can have a bigger payoff. 

5: Sniffle Etiquette: We live in a hygienic World. There's hand sanitizer at every doorway. I’m not an OCD person, but, the gift of germs isn’t cute or sweet. If you are blowing your nose through your entire treadmill sesh, then have the courtesy to wipe down the machine both before and after using it. If you are at the tail end of a cough and hacking through the whole class, perhaps choose a solo workout that day. It’s not always about being contagious but being mindful of your fellow exercise enthusiasts.

Lastly, and maybe Firstly, strengthening your bodies ability to cling to healthy cells rather than the weak ones will be contingent on how solid your foundation is. As I mentioned above, wellness isn't only based on food and fitness isn't only about exercise, it's the equation. A regular exercise routine coupled with smart food behaviors like boosting your antioxidant intake and staying well hydrated sounds simple but if it was then I wouldn't have a business. Recently I started working with a client who thought she wanted to just lean out and eat healthier, we come to discover that she's sick every holiday and miserable on vacation after flying and catching a cold. Sitting on the beach bummed out by a head cold in Cabo sounds awful! So we honed in on the energy, immune building foods and a holiday miracle happened!  Take a look at the bigger picture, your life as a whole, what measures are you taking now so that you are creating a healthy present and future.

I wish you a happy, healthy 2017 Food Athletes! Thank you for welcoming me into the wonderful world wide web of wellness this year! I'm so grateful for you all!

Be Happy, Be Healthy, Love Your Body!

xo Jessi (Your Food Athlete) xo