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!
On this particular Motivation Monday, I feel the need to keep things as simple as possible.
After a four-day mini-marathon helping my parents start cleaning out the house they’ve lived in for the past 35 years and my mom’s birthday, my muscles and my brain are just a bit fried. So, for the sake of everyone facing a manic Monday, I thought I’d offer some basic elements for how I keep my healthy lifestyle in check.
Here are my top five dos and don’t for healthy living:
1) DON’T skip meals for an entire day in anticipation of a big event at night. DO eat small, sensible meals every few hours before the celebration so your blood sugar levels stay consistent and you don’t over-do-it once you arrive. One hour before the party, try to have a satisfying snack with some protein. My go-to: string cheese and a couple of clementines or an apple.
2) DON’T sabotage all your efforts at the gym by drinking sugary drinks while you workout. Unless you’re running up and down a court or field for 90 minutes or more, stick with water to stay hydrated. Can’t stand plain water? DO feel free to add a drop or packet of zero-calorie flavor crystals to your water bottle or opt for no-calorie versions of the popular sports drinks.
3) DON’T go to the gym when you have symptoms of something beyond the sniffles. If you have a serious cough or stomach issues, do everyone a favor and skip the workout and stay home. DO, however, maintain a consistent exercise schedule with a combination of cardio and strength training to help boost your immune system and fight off the bugs when they try to bring you down.
4) DON’T let exercise become an obsession. Pain beyond the typical aches and pains following a tough workout or extreme fatigue are warning signs that it’s time to rest! DO take at least one rest day each week to let your muscles recover and give your entire body a re-charge.
5)DON’T skimp on sleep. Many people fail to realize that exercise, healthy eating and getting the proper rest are all necessary for staying on top of your game. DO wrap up your workout at least two hours before bedtime and stop texting, emailing and all your other social-media activity at least 30 minutes before lights out.
Remember, sometimes keeping things simple is the best way to stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!