Am I Too Sick for Gym Training?

If you’re a regular exerciser it’s likely you have developed a strong immune system and will be less vulnerable to lurgies. But it is hard to stay well 100% of the time. How do you know how sick is too sick for gym training?

The best way to assess if you're "Good to Go" or should "Lay Low" is the "Neck Check".   

If the sickness is above the neck you're generally safe to exercise. Above the neck includes mild headache, sore or scratchy throat, nasal congestion, sneezing or teary eyes.   

In this case a little light exercise can stimulate the immune system. I start my personal training clients off very gently. We begin with an intensity of 6 out of 10 with lots of breaks and water stops. If they start feeling better as they exercise I gradually increase the intensity and stop if necessary. It's important that you go extra cautiously if you have taken medication to relieve your symptoms - without your symptoms to guide you it's hard to tell how sick you really are and if you overdo it you risk making the illness more severe.  

If you choose to go to the gym don't forget your manners! Bring your sweat towel (you always do, of course!) and wipe everything down with antiseptic spray after you use it. 

If symptoms are below the neck you should definitely take the day off your fitness program. This includes chest congestion, stomach cramps or vomiting, diarrhea, general aches and fever. Some illnesses require all of the strength of the immune system and can be aggravated by the dehydration and muscle fatigue that occurs with exercise. Best you stay home and have the illness sideline you for 2 days rather than being a hero and having it sideline you for 2 weeks. 

Rest does not mean sit on the couch and indulge in comfort eating! The best thing you can do is take your vitamins, drink loads of water and go to bed early.  "But I'll put on weight if I miss my gym training" is a bad excuse. Eat the way you know you should when you are sick. If you're serious about healing your body you need to be eating lots of fresh food and good quality protein. Most importantly, consider how many treat foods are appropriate when you are temporarily sedentary. While you're stuck at home with limited food choices you might even lose a little weight.  

Neither your body or your gym friends will thank you for going to the gym when you're ill. Exercise regularly when you are well and be sensible when you aren't. Your fitness is very important but if you try to put it ahead of your health when you are sick you will end up losing both.  

Article by Claire Bellingham, Personal Trainer, Les Mills Takapuna