On this Motivation Monday, I send my usual shot of encouragement to all of you who are still busy crushing those healthy living goals for 2018. However, since I also know at least a dozen people battling nasty colds or the flu, I’m also sending lots of get well wishes to anyone who’s been sidelined by a bug. Since my neighborhood has joined the ranks of others around the country registering very high on the Weather.com “Sick Score” on a daily basis, I know I’m talking about a lot of people.
Whether waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting in Church for Sunday Mass or clocking some miles on the elliptical machine, I’ve been surrounded by people sneezing and coughing at all different levels of ferocity. So I thought this was the perfect time to remind everyone of one move that can play a huge part in protecting you against picking up someone else’s germs and getting sick: wash those hands!
Sure, I’ll be the first to encourage exercise as a natural immunity booster, especially at this time of year. Working out is also a great way to improve your mood and beat the dreaded winter blues. But let’s face it: as much as I love going to the gym, it is one of the dirtiest places you can hang out. Since not everyone wipes their sweat and grime from machines or mats as they make their way around the floor, washing your hands could be the smartest move you make before walking out the door. If you’re taking the time to meticulously count your reps, time those Tabatas and monitor your heart rate, you owe it to yourself to add one or two minutes to the end of your workout with a quick but effective clean up. Consider it part of your cool down.
Here’s the official reminder from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to effectively wash your hands:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
During your workout – and anytime really – do your best to avoid touching your eyes and nose. They are easy gateways for germs to pass through and take over your body. Finally, if you do get sick, click here for a few reminders on when it’s time to consider an extra rest day so you don’t spread your germs to the rest of your fitness friends.
Remember, armed with some basic hygiene and common sense, we can all navigate our way through another cold and flu season and stay on track with all those plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
I was one of these people on Monday, but I’m happy to report at the end of the work week, I am back at 100 percent. This is the first time in forever I can remember winning the battle against a bug so quickly. I’m convinced it’s because I did the one thing that’s nearly impossible for so many of us to do in our ultra-busy lives: I listened to my body.
Monday morning, I woke up with a scratchy throat, a severe case of the sniffles and a few chills. I never really woke up all day. I went to Walgreens, picked up my first bottle of Zicam® and started popping the dissolvable tablets every four hours. I also doubled my normal water intake. Then at quitting time, even though it was Motivation Monday, I made the difficult decision to skip the gym. Instead, I went directly home after work, took a hot shower, made some hot soup and crashed on the couch. I even backed off on my social media chatter.
To my pleasant surprise, I woke up on Tuesday feeling much better. I continued the regimen of Zicam, water and more clementines than usual. I did go to my Tuesday night strength class, but lessened my weight load just a bit. By Wednesday I felt strong enough to make it to a high-intensity group exercise class, where I’m pretty sure I sweat out whatever germs were still in my system. As I sit here writing on Thursday, I feel like I’m back in fighting form!
I realize we can’t always beat a bug and I’ve heard all the reports about the severity of this season’s flu virus. My hope is that this post reminds everyone about the importance of listening to your body when it needs a break. Yes, we all have daily responsibilities, but there are times when you just have to say “no” or take a rain check on that extra activity on your to-do list. As a fitness junkie, I know how hard it is to back off from the endorphin rush sometimes. However, I hope this post shows the power of taking just one day off when it comes to staying on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!