Every time I get sick or get the flu, the big question comes into my mind, ‘should I train or shouldn’t I?’ Then I start to think about my progress and how I just have to get to the gym and I keep trying to justify it to myself, thinking I will be fine and I won’t make it worse. And every time that I forced myself to the gym, nothing got better, I just realized it too late that I should take a breather and then ended up being out of action for at least a week! So I have learnt the hard way, and yet I still try to justify it to myself because of that need to train.
But what I have learnt is that, if you get sick you need to first accept it and you NEED TO STAY OUT OF THE GYM (OR DO NOT DO ANY FORM OF CARDIO EXERCISE).
You need to focus on resting and recovering, and not overexerting yourself and your heart, especially if it is a viral infection. If it’s a viral infection like flu, your heart tissue can become inflamed and is more prone to damage during high intensity aerobic activity. It can even cause a sudden heart attack, so you really do not want to harm your heart muscle and tissue by exercising while you have that infection.
Now I can understand when you initially get sick the first day or two you can still train because you are not really sure if it’s, just for example, a slight sniffle, and it may not develop into anything else after that. But should it get any worse, stay away from strenuous exercise. A decent guide to use, is if your symptoms are above your neck and not too severe, you can still train. For instance just a slight headache or a slight runny nose should be ok to train with. But once you start feeling it in the rest of your body and start to feel weak, then you do need to take a step back and rest. Take a cough for example. When you cough and feel it hurt in your chest, then that’s a sign that you need to relax and get it treated first. When in doubt though, just REST and avoid putting that extra stress and pressure on your body.
See when you get sick, most of your body’s resources will be centered on trying to treat the sickness and get rid of the bad cells and bacteria causing the condition. So now if you decide to go and train your body has to now split its reserves to repair your muscles AND recover from the workout in addition to still fight the illness. So this will most likely prolong the treatment process and may even make it worse. What can you do if you do get sick? I try to avoid medication at all costs, so when I get sick I load up on vitamin C, a lot of fruits and vegetables, and A LOT of WATER, and green tea with honey and lemon all coupled with a lot of rest. It usually does the trick within a few days.
Sometimes it’s your body’s way of telling you to relax and take a break as it needs some time to recover completely. So it can be a good thing to rest it out and come back in a week or 2 stronger and more focused than ever!