I was down with a cold and a bad throat yesterday. I must have been bitten by the bugs from my hubs and my second daughter, who were down with a cold and strep throat just a week ago. I struggled to get by my day yesterday. Though I felt like I was going to collapse any time, with drooping heavy eyes and a beat up body, I dragged myself into the kitchen and cooked lunch and dinner. In between house chores, I felt extremely sleep and napped whenever I had a chance to do so, which was extremely difficult with 2 daughters having an exam and the Mandarin tutor in the house.
This morning when I got up, I was still feeling extremely lethargic with tired eyes. I skipped jogging after sending my daughters off to the school van. Instead of going to the tracks, I snuggled back onto my cozy bed and slept for 2 hours. When I got up, I felt so energized. The heavy droopy eyes are now bright and well rested. My brain does not feel foggy anymore. I have been sitting at my PC typing away for 2 hours continuously, after breakfast of a slice of light chiffon cake and a bowl of light Marmite soup (1 teaspoon to about 300 ml of water).
A strep throat, achy muscles and a runny nose can make you miserable, but if you still have the energy to exercise, should you? I will continue to exercise if I have the energy to do so, but will tone down the intensity and duration. For eg. I will do brisk walking instead of running and instead of walking 40 minutes, a 30-minute walk will suffice. But if I do not have the energy to exercise, like this morning, I will definitely give exercising a miss for a day or two to rest and catch up on my sleep. I always get well from a cold naturally, from getting lots of rest and sleep and taking natural supplements like carotenoids, hydrogen water, raw honey, Manuka honey, propolis and Esberitox.
Some physical activities when you’re sick can be alright, but there are times when exercise can make things worse.
The best way to determine whether you should go to the gym, or go to bed is the extent and location of your symptoms. You will need to give yourself a “neck check”.
You can exercise safely when…
If your symptoms are from the neck up, such as a sore throat, then it’s okay to exercise. Physical activity won’t slow down your recovery, as long as you don’t elevate your heart rate and body temperature too much.
US researchers studied people who exhibited an upper respiratory tract infection or “head cold” over 10 days. They compared people who exercised for 40 minutes every second day with people who didn’t exercise at all. They found no difference in symptoms at the end of the study, and that exercising with a minor cold did not alter the severity or duration of the illness.
Green light symptoms (yes, you can exercise)
- runny nose
- watery eyes
- sore throat
It’s best to rest when….
If your symptoms are below the neck, such as a tight chest, then your body needs rest. Exercising with major cold symptoms, particularly a fever, will prolong your illness and can be dangerous. Physical activity will compromise your immune system as the body focuses on energy production and muscle function instead of fighting the illness.
If your oral temperature is at or over 37.5 °C (99.5 °F), your body is fighting an infection, and needs rest to recover. Listen to your body, and take comfort that you won’t lose any conditioning by taking a few days break.
Red light symptoms (best to avoid exercise)
- fatigue and tiredness
- congested or tight chest
- nausea or upset stomach
- muscle aches
- high temperature / fever
Fit people recover from illnesses quicker and experience milder symptoms than couch potatoes, according to a 2011 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The following are the guidelines for exercising before, during and after a cold or flu.
If you feel like you’re coming down with a garden-variety cold, you can still exercise without significant limitations. If you begin to feel worse after your workout, however, cut back. Take a few days off or reduce your effort to 50% of your normal capacity. Walk for 15 minutes instead of running for 30 minutes, or do one set of lifting instead of five. Also keep in mind the above-the-neck rule: If your symptoms include a runny nose, dry cough, or sneezing, you should be fine to exercise. But if your symptoms are below the neck, such a chest congestion, muscle aches, upset stomach, etc., make sure to rest.
Stay home if you have a fever, stomach symptoms or the flu. If you’re wiped out with fatigue there’s no reason to work out. Plus, you’re contagious the first five to seven days. Rest allows your immune system to recover. Get to bed early and get extra sleep, drink plenty of fluids (no alcohol), take over-the-counter cold and flu medicines or ibuprofen as you recover.
Try to keep stress at bay. Stress is known to suppress the immune system which makes it easier for you to get sick and cranky and harder to fight off bugs.