In sickness and health- should I train when sick?

Hello All,

Over the past weeks a few clients have missed training sessions due to the dreaded flu and cold. I have also been asked on my weekly Q&A should I train if I am sick. I light of this I wanted to take this blog and answer.

Should I train when I am sick?

Note I am not Doctor and the advice given here is for general flus and colds. If your condition Is causing you concern you should always consult your Doctor.

Exercise is the one key player in keeping us heathy. The benefits of exercise include:

· Improved heart and lung health,

· Lower rates of obesity,

· Lower lifestyle related disorders,

· Better bone and joint health,

· Improved immunity– up to a point.

In the table below, we can see the relationship between immune system impairment (represented here by the ‘risk of infection’) and exercise volume (that’s both duration AND intensity).

With little or no activity, we can see that our immune system is about average, however when compared to engaging in a mild to moderate increase in exercise, the immune response improves. It might be surprising that when we engage in high training volume, the risk of infection increases rapidly, therefore it may be best to avoid such training if feeling under the weather!

Sick already?

So you are sick already and want to train. Here are some general tips;

If you have a fever above 38C, or a respiratory tract infection Avoid all exercise. Rest, take appropriate medication, fluids, and good food are your best path to recovery

If it’s a common cold ( nasal congestion, sore throat and mild headache) doing some easy low intensity exercise, (Z2, shorter sessions up to 45 minutes)

Sickness is unique, and our response to illness and training is greatly varied. The harder we train it is vital that key recovery strategies such as sleep and nutrition are on point. If you are not getting optimal sleep and good nutrition you may want to be more conservative with how much you train when ill as adding additional stress such as exercise is unwise.

Depending on the duration and severity of the illness, you might have to ease back into activity. Severe illness can cause fitness levels to drop jumping back into the pre-illness training schedule may not a good idea.

Stay healthy and train smart.


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