Too Sick to Train?

We all know what it means to train hard regularly and then suddenly be faced with the prospect of missing gym days due to vacation, moving, or, worst of all, illness. Ugh… the tremendous horror of missing gym time! Don’t understand about the horror of missing gym time? You can skip this article, cutiepie.

When you’re young, it’s easy to decide whether or not you’re too sick to participate. If it’s a trip to Six Flags, you’re perfectly fine; if it’s a school day, you’re definitely super sick. As an adult, the equation often becomes complicated, especially if you’re in the camp that believes gym time is a good time.

Am I too sick to train?, she pondered

Am I too sick to train?, she pondered

The main things to think about when considering whether or not to skip are:
1. Will I risk making myself sicker?
2. Will I risk making others sick?
3. Will I risk increasing the recovery time?

First of all, how bad is it? There’s some definite no-no’s. For example, there’s a difference between a head cold and a chest cold. A head cold, aka “the common cold,” is typically a pretty minor viral ailment, mainly affecting your mouth, nose and throat. And if it’s not too bad, and you’re not incessantly coughing or sneezing, you can often get away with going to work or a light workout. Whereas a chest cold, although caused by the same viruses as a head cold, tends to be more severe and harder to fight. A chest cold can also turn into serious illness if not well treated. 

So how bad are the symptoms? Do you have a temperature? Is it something that you can keep in check and without significant risk of transmitting to others? Are you past the worst of it or might the illness potentially worsen? If you go to the gym and suddenly start feeling bad again, is there a chance it could cause you an embarrassing episode?!

Get a Second Opinion
Depending upon how sick you may feel, you may or may not want to consult a doctor. That goes without saying, but you might also discuss your condition with your trainer to help decide whether it is a good idea to work out and how much you should do.

And wash your hands often.

3. Be Sensitive and Sensible
Often times you can use good common sense to determine whether or not you’re too sick. Certainly if you have a fever, body aches, frequent sneezing or coughing; stay in bed and get rest. If your stomach merely aches or you’re feeling a bit “under the weather” you can probably train, and the training may even help you feel better, but take it easy and stop if suddenly you feel worse.

And wash your hands often.

5. Be Considerate of Others
Due to some illnesses being highly contagious, it is best to stay home when your sickness is more serious. Keep in mind that, even if your symptoms are light, and even if you’ve had a day or two to recover, your virus may still be picked up by others, especially if you sneeze or cough. While you cannot transmit a cold or flu through sweat, you can spread germs just by talking, so be thoughtful when coming into contact with others at the gym.

And wash your hands often.

Worried about disappointing your gym partners? They’ll get over it quickly, which is more than one can say about influenza!

While you don’t want to lose ground in your training, a couple days off won’t make much difference. You’ll get over it quickly, which is more than one can say about influenza! Anyway, it’s always good to take an extra day off now and then anyway. The main thing to remember is that you certainly don’t want to exacerbate a relatively minor problem and make it into a major one. That goes for both injuries as well as illnesses.

If you do miss any extended period of time from training you should not expect to pick up right where you left off. Ease back in the first session or two and allow your body to re-adjust to the stress of training.

We say it so often: Listen to your body. But even before you get that far you should know enough that any physical activity during an illness should be limited in duration and intensity.

And wash your hands often

Posted on June 1, 2016 .