With the widespread sickness we’ve been subjected to in the last many months, we’ve almost undoubtedly all been affected to some degree, whether with what may have been a common cold, or worse, an ominous new variant of a virus. Among the cascade of thoughts that are certain to rush through your head about how to handle the upcoming days will likely be whether or not you should commit to staying home, or if you should “fight through it” and remain active as best as possible.
For the purposes of this newsletter we are going to assume that as a respectful member of a gym community, you use your best judgment and discretion and ensure that you do not put other’s health at risk by working out at a public facility while displaying symptoms of a possibly contagious illness. For those of you that work out at home, your discretion should focus more on how you feel. Here are a few things to ask yourself when determining whether a few days of total rest is a more suitable remedy for you, or whether a degree of physical activity would serve you best.
- Are your symptoms “above the neck?” These symptoms such as congestion, minor sore throat, and sneezing are generally those associated with a common cold. In this case, consider reducing the intensity and length of the workout. Instead of a run, consider a moderate intensity walk. I often tell people to work out at 60-70% intensity.
- If your symptoms include chest congestion, upset stomach, fever, or widespread muscle aches, avoid any fitness facility and take a break. Let your body be your guide. One of the goals of Flex Level Fitness if to help individuals better understand the way their body communicates with them. The greater our body intuition, the better we can manage our diet, exercise regimen, and rest time because of learning to trust the messages our body sends us. Gaining confidence in our understanding of our body’s needs is among the most powerful ways to increase the efficiency of how we use our body’s resources.
- Taking a break of 2-3 days is unlikely to have any negative impact your performance. In fact, personal experience would lead me to believe that the contrary is true for those of you that train regularly. For many of us, a day or two off is exactly what we need, under the weather or not.
Exercise in general helps to improve immune system function and boost our natural defenses against illness. However, intense exercise for an extended duration can have the opposite effect and reduce immunity.
If you do decide to work out while still a bit under the weather, be sure to practice gym etiquette. Ideally, you should use a towel and place it on every surface you touch, and wipe it off when done. Equally, if not more important is frequent hand washing. Before and after the restroom, before meals, and after any time you realize you may have come in contact with someone displaying symptoms of illness.
Things are looking increasingly bright as we settle into 2022. I am confident that each of us will continue to do our part to contribute to the eradication of the rampant spread of illness, while maintaining the sense of agency that is so critical to our development as people cognitively, emotionally, and physically.
Flex Level Fitness and Impact Fitness wish you all a safe and warm final stretch of winter!