The motivation to exercise can be difficult to maintain. Once you get going, you might not want to stop a healthy habit. However, seasonal illnesses have a way of putting a halt to even the best-laid plans. When a winter cold comes along, should the workout routine be put aside for the duration? Activity levels during illness vary depending on individual comfort levels and even more so depending on the severity of the sickness.
In general, a person can continue with an exercise routine during seasonal sickness as long as he or she does not have a fever and still feels comfortable. In the case of winter cold, most of the symptoms shouldn’t inhibit a standard workout routine. While a sore throat and fatigue without a fever may not make for the best gym performance of all time, they won’t necessarily require a day off. When congestion is contained mostly above the shoulders, such as nasal or sinus congestion, it’s still fine to engage in a fitness routine. Scale back to a less intense level if necessary for comfort.
However, there is a difference between the winter cold and the flu. Once a fever, body aches, and the fatigue associated with the flu set in, it’s probably time to consider staying home to rest rather than hitting the gym. The stomach upset and vomiting alone are enough to keep most people home, but for those who truly have trouble losing a workout, consider the effects of cortisol on the immune system. Cortisol is a hormone released during exercise. Over time, it improves the body’s response to stress. In the short term, though, it suppresses the immune system. That’s the last thing the body needs when trying to recover from the flu.
In short, keeping up with regular workouts when struck with a simple cold virus is okay without a fever, dependent on individual comfort. However, when the flu comes calling, it’s time to rest. Get extra sleep, watch television on the couch, or read books in bed. Drink plenty of fluids and enjoy some warm chicken soup. Get back to the gym and regular routines when the illness has completely cleared in order to avoid prolonging the downtime. While those who monitor progress closely may notice a small dip in performance upon return to the gym, taking the time to recover fully is best.