Marsh column: Working out while under the weather

  • Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012 12:22 a.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, December 31, 2012 8:16 a.m.

Well, it is THAT season …aside from being New Year's Eve lots of people are dealing with the flu. And if not the flu, the common cold can really slow you down too.

People have asked me if they should work out while being “under the weather.”


To be honest with you, my staff and I and other members would rather have you stay home. Don't get me wrong, we love having you but when you know you are “under the weather” you don't do anyone a favor by working out, especially yourself, even when you don't have the flu. Your body needs the rest to recover from your illness. When you are working out you are breaking your body down for it to build itself up again when at rest. Being sick really will slow down that process so you are not doing yourself (or us) a favor by working out.

The common cold is the most diagnosed and frequent infection which affects all ages today. Except in the elderly, frail or newborns, colds are not especially dangerous. Colds generally take care of themselves in 7-10 days and don't require special treatment other than rest. You can ease aches and pains with over the counter pain relievers. Most doctors recommend rest and lots of fluids.

The flu (influenza) is a contagious virus common between the fall and spring when temperatures and immune systems are at their lowest. The flu is spread through direct contact and airborne germs, which are released into the air through coughing and sneezing. (Do you now understand why we want you to stay at home and rest?).

The easiest and most effective way is to get a flu shot before November when the flu season begins. Flu strains change year to year so an annual shot is recommended. Since the flu is so bad this year it can still be beneficial getting the flu shot now, if you haven't yet. Washing your hands frequently and keeping a safe distance from flu sufferers help prevent you from getting the flu. So if you are knowingly sick and come to work out anyway you aren't only affecting everyone who is there but you are not doing your body any justice. Doctors recommend in both cases rest and plenty of fluids. So doesn't it make more sense to rest and hydrate for a couple of days (or longer) so you can get back on your feet AND workouts again?

Your body will thank you and we are thanking you. Guess what? We can't wait for you to come back AFTER you are not contagious anymore and are feeling like yourself again.

Until next year! Happy New Year!

Ester Marsh, ACSM Cpt Health and Fitness Director JF Hurley Family YMCA

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