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Starting off the Season Sick?

I don’t understand the science behind it, but I do know every year the change of seasons brings a rise in the number of people I hear coughing and sneezing everywhere from the gym to the grocery store. So on this Motivation Monday, I offer some timely reminders about when it’s time to consider skipping a workout to beat a bug and prevent spreading your germs to your fellow fitness friends, too.

I like to follow what The American College of Sports Medicine calls the “above/below-the-neck rule.” If your symptoms include the sniffles, runny nose and scratchy throat, studies show mild-to-moderate exercise isn’t harmful. In fact, a light workout can help to boost your immune system. This could include a low/moderate intensity cardio workout that almost constantly keeps your heart rate in a range between 60-80% of your maximum heart rate.  (Reminder: to calculate max heart rate: 220-your age)  However, ACSM recommends you skip the heavy weight training or high-intensity cardio until you do beat your cold. Working out at too high an intensity when you’re fighting a bug puts extra stress on the body and can further compromise the immune system.

If you’re able to exercise and head to a gym, do your fellow gym members a favor. Wipe down any equipment you use with the anti-bacterial spray that’s sure to be made available by the facility. It’s just common courtesy!

As for the below-the-neck “stuff”: If you’re suffering from stomach issues including vomiting or diarrhea, or have a severe cough or fever, do everyone a favor and take a break from exercise until whatever’s ailing you has run its course. Also, if you’re knocked out by a serious bug for several days, remember to take it easy on your first day back in action. There’s a good chance you’ll be slightly dehydrated and feeling fatigued, so don’t jump out of bed and rush to your highest-intensity bootcamp class the minute your fever breaks.

No matter what the season or how you’re feeling, here’s the one thing everyone should do before leaving the gym: take two to three extra minutes at the end your workout to head to the restroom and wash your hands! Getting rid of the sweat and grime before you touch your eyes or face is a surefire way to keep other people’s germs from getting into your system. Sometimes all we need is a little common sense and some soap and water to keep us on track with our plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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To Workout or Not to Workout…

coldThe inspiration for this Motivation Monday message came to me at Church. Everyone sitting around me at Sunday morning’s family Mass was either sneezing or coughing, especially the kids. When I got home, I washed my hands and thought now’s as good a time as any to offer reminders about when to consider skipping the gym to help your body get over a bug and keep your fellow fitness friends from getting sick, too.

The American College of Sports Medicine has outlined what you could call the “above/below-the-neck rule.” If your symptoms include the sniffles, runny nose and scratchy throat, studies show mild-to-moderate exercise isn’t harmful.  This could include a low/moderate intensity cardio workout that almost constantly keeps your heart rate in a range between 60-80% of your maximum heart rate.  (Reminder: to calculate max heart rate: 220-your age)  However, ACSM recommends you skip the heavy weight training or high-intensity cardio until you do beat your cold. Working out at too high an intensity when you’re fighting a bug puts extra stress on the body and can further compromise the immune system.

If you’re able to exercise and head to a gym, do your fellow gym members a favor. Wipe down any equipment you use with the anti-bacterial spray that’s sure to be made available by the facility. It’s just common courtesy!

As for the below-the-neck “stuff”: If you’re suffering from stomach issues including vomiting or diarrhea, or have a severe cough or fever, do everyone a favor and take a break from exercise until whatever’s ailing you has run its course. Also, if you’re knocked out by a serious bug for several days, remember to take it easy on your first day back in action. There’s a good chance you’ll be slightly dehydrated and feeling fatigued, so don’t jump out of bed and rush to your highest-intensity bootcamp class the minute your fever breaks.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: listen to your body! It’s true that one the benefits of exercise is that it boosts the immune system. However, what’s also true is that depending on what’s going on in your life, your body may need an extra hour of sleep one morning more than it needs to be pushed to the max at a kickboxing class.

Remember, a minimum of one day of rest each week is important, but when you’re sick, you may need two or more. Don’t sweat it. Just rest up, drink your fluids and before you know it, you’ll be back on your feet and back on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Should I Exercise When I’m Sick?

One of the benefits of exercise is that it boosts your immune system.  However, even the biggest fitness fanatics can get sick now and then thanks to a laundry list of reasons including:

  • Mental stress

  • Lack of sleep

  • Poor nutrition

For me, when I have a series of days filled with 5-am call times, outdoor shoots in cold or hot weather, tight deadlines, a too-full social calendar and not enough sleep, I can actually feel my body getting rundown.  Sure enough, I am heading into this weekend battling the classic symptoms of a common cold – a sore throat, serious head congestion and fatigue. So, I figured it was the perfect time to tackle the question of whether it’s good or bad to workout when you’re sick.

The American College of Sports Medicine has outlined what you could call the “above/below-the-neck rule.” If your symptoms are like mine, studies show mild-to-moderate exercise isn’t harmful.  This could include low/moderate intensity cardio, which is a cardiovascular workout that almost constantly keeps your heart rate in a range that is between 60-80% of your maximum heart rate.  (Reminder: to calculate max heart rate: 220-your age)  However, ACSM recommends you skip the heavy weight training or high-intensity cardio until you do beat your cold. Working out at too high an intensity when you’re fighting a bug puts extra stress on the body and can further compromise the immune system.

One note if you are able to exercise and you head to a gym: do your fellow gym members a favor and wipe down any equipment you use with the anti-bacterial spray that’s sure to be made available by the facility. It’s just common courtesy.

As for the below-the-neck rule: If you have stomach issues that include vomiting, diarrhea, a severe cough or a fever, ACSM says you should take a break from exercise until whatever’s ailing you has run its course. Also, if you’re knocked out by a serious bug for several days, remember to take it easy on your first day back in action. Your body could be recovering from mild dehydration and overall fatigue, so don’t jump out of bed and rush back to your highest-intensity cardio class as soon as your fever breaks.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: listen to your body! This morning, I planned to get in a pre-work workout because of after-work plans, but when my alarm went off, I was simply too tired and too achey to get out of bed. Instead, I added a couple of extra blocks to my walk to work by going to a different place to get my morning coffee.  I truly believe getting that extra hour of sleep will help me beat this bug faster than if I had pushed myself too hard.

While a minimum of one day of rest each week is important, when you’re sick, you may need one (or two) more.  Don’t sweat it.  Just rest up, drink your fluids and before you know it, you’ll be back on your feet so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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