Germs and the Gym

It’s the end of January. You’ve finally got yourself into a little workout routine and maybe you’re starting to make some progress and see some results. This makes you happy. You should be! This is hard work! And just when you’re starting to believe you will see your goal, BAM, you get the plague.

This scenario is all too familiar to me! And it raises the question, “Should you work out if you’re not 100%”?

I have a definite opinion on this, but only because I repeatedly made the same mistake for years until I learned to listen to my body.

But before you hear from me:

What do the Doctors say?

If you google this subject you will find that doctors generally agree it’s ok to workout if you’re symptoms are “above the neck”. Imagine symptoms associated with the common cold including a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing and watery eyes. If you have “below the neck” symptoms, hacking cough, chest congestion and/or tightness, then it’s advisable to take some time off. Also, they advise against working out at all if you have a fever, feel fatigued or have widespread muscle aches.

While this medical ‘guidance’ is helpful it’s really not that cut and dry. People are different. Circumstances are different. You have to know yourself.

What I’ve learned:

The best way to get my point across is to give you an example.

A few years ago I was deep in my training when I got cold symptoms. I know a lot of people who don’t slow down for a cold. I decided to follow their example. The result for me? I believe I was responsible for giving myself pneumonia!

I have asthma, so I’m not like ‘a lot of people’ when it comes to the common cold. I didn’t always have asthma though. I developed it as an adult, so I had a lot to learn!

The first thing I learned is that dangerous illnesses can stem from a simple germ and feed on stubbornness. I didn’t ‘want’ to take a break. Heaven forbid I miss a workout! There were two things I didn’t realize. First, my body was laboring much harder doing a familiar workout because I wasn’t well. Second, my body was already working hard to get better. A lose, lose situation!

A simple cold turned into pneumonia because I refused to rest. I was out for weeks.

If you won’t do it for yourself, think about the other guy.

I truly believe that whenever I get the plague it’s from the gym (or shopping cart handles, but that’s another blog). No one who goes to the gym wants a germ infested person contaminating all the equipment. In my opinion, if your nose is all runny and you’re sneezing everywhere, you should definitely stay home no matter what the internet says.

The final question.

I’ve learned that if you have to keep asking yourself, “Should I work out, I’m not really feeling great,” the answer is “NO, you should not work out.” Give yourself a break. You will probably recover faster with a little rest and may just prevent your fellow gym friends from catching your plague.

Everyone wins!

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