Exercising Safely During Cold and Flu Season

Feeling under the weather and don’t have the energy to work out? Worried about what coming down with a cold can mean for your exercise regimen? Here, we’ve answered some of your questions to help navigate whether or not you should be exercising when sickness strikes.

Can exercise protect me from a cold or flu—or make me more susceptible?

Although people who exercise regularly generally get sick less often, sometimes too much of a good thing can be harmful. Some studies show that long bouts of intense exercise, like a 90-minute run, may make you more vulnerable to viruses. This is because after you exercise vigorously, your immune system becomes stressed and weaker for several hours. So be extra-careful to avoid germs during this time. Also, giving your body ample rest between tough workouts will help keep your body healthy.

Should I work out in extreme cold?

San Diego doesn’t see many days with inclement weather, but we do have a few each year. The notion that cold or rainy weather ups your chances of an infection is a myth. So, in general, it’s safe to exercise in cold weather as long as you’re properly dressed. If you do head out, remember these tips:

• Dress in layers to avoid overheating
• Avoid cotton clothing, which retains moisture and may make you colder once you start sweating
• Opt for synthetic fabric, such as polypropylene, which wicks away moisture
• Cover your head, neck, hands and feet properly

If I’m sick, when should I take a break from exercise?

There really is no right or wrong answer for this question. It all depends on how you feel, which is why it’s important to listen to your body. Exercise is usually okay if your symptoms are all “above the neck.” These signs and symptoms include those which normally indicate a common cold, such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or minor sore throat. Try not to overdo the workout, though, it may worsen your symptoms and, in some cases, lengthen the illness. If you’re feeling less than 100 percent, stick to light-to-moderate exercise until you start feeling better.

If your cold is accompanied by a fever, chest congestion (making it hard to breathe) or flu-like symptoms, it’s best to sit your workout out for a few days until you’re feeling re-energized.

How can I avoid germs at the gym to avoid getting sick?

Gyms are a hotbed of germs. Some of the top spots where cold and flu germs lurk are interior door handles and gym equipment (think dumbbells, free-weight benches and cardio and weight-training machines). And while most germs won’t make you sick, it’s better to be cautious. Avoid nasty gym germs by:

• Bringing your own water bottle and avoid the water fountain.
• Shower or wash your hands with antibacterial soap before and after hitting the gym.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Wipe down gym equipment before and after use to avoid the last guy’s germs, while also leaving things clean for the next person.

Better yet, avoid the gym entirely and opt for one of our Personal Training Group classes. Since each class is held outdoors, you will avoid the icky gym germs you can pick up by working out in enclosed spaces.

How does COVID-19 affect this?

Since COVID-19 can be much more of a severe form of illness, during this time, it’s extra important to take caution when you’re not feeling well. To protect yourself and others, if you’re feeling under the weather this season – stay home.

If you still feel like it’s just a little head cold, try one of our Zoom workout classes. However, if it’s in your chest – it’s a good idea to pull back. Enjoy some downtime or maybe focus on your stretching and mobility exercises. Save the HIIT classes for when you’re feeling 100% again.

Question: Do you usually power through when you are feeling under the weather? Or do prefer to sit it out until you are healthy?

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