Friday, March 25, 2011

Cough, cough, sniff!

Okay, I should have known better than to brag about how my running schedule was back on track. That was tempting fate just a little too much... about two hours after I posted that last blog entry, I came down with a cold, complete with sore throat. While the actual cold hasn't been too horrible, it has left me feeling completely wiped out. I have slept most of the last two days away.... not my idea of a fun time!

However, that did give me a chance to refresh my knowledge on when you can work out or when you should refrain from working out during an illness. There are some basic principles, to follow:

  1. Do not work out if you are running a fever
  2. It's said you should do a "neck check" as part of your guide to whether or not to work out:
    1. If all your symptoms are above the neck (runny nose, sore throat etc) you're probably okay to work out
    2. However, if any of your symptoms are below the neck (fever, coughing, or fatigue) it's probably time to take a break from the workout
  3. Listen carefully to your body - if you are well enough to work out, you may still want to take the intensity level down a notch or two until your illness has completely subsided
Some other considerations to keep in mind:
  1. If you are sneezing or blowing your nose a lot, it might be preferable that you stay away from the gym... keep from sharing your illness with others. Sweaty towels, kleenex, etc. that might get accidentally laid down may provide the means of spreading your germs (Ew!)
  2. Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your gym bag to keep yourself as germ free as possible (just because you try to exercise good gym etiquette, doesn't mean everyone else will be as considerate)
  3. One of the most important aspects is to wash your hands frequently - this will keep you illness free and will also help if you do get sick from passing that illness on to others
In doing my research I also learned that while doing regular moderate exercise 3 to 4 times a week can actually help to boost your body's first-line defense immunity, when your exercise times go over 90 minutes, your body's immunity levels tend to go down. While this may, on the surface, seem like a bit of a bummer, I'm certainly not going to let it inhibit my training. Keep in mind that there are so many more advantages gained from the exercise and weight loss and they far outweigh the risks associated with that single long run that I do every week.

As is the case with so much of what we do during our regular weekly workouts, when we're sick, I think a little common sense goes a long way and of course, don't forget to listen to what your body is telling you.

Here's to being healthy long term!

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