Ester Marsh column: Use caution during workouts when sick

  • Posted: Monday, October 28, 2013 12:19 a.m.

Unfortunately, it is that time again — lots of illnesses going around. The local schools are already feeling it in attendance numbers. Going from summer to “winter” is hard for the body to adjust to and lots of viruses flourish.

The common cold is the most diagnosed and frequent infection, which affects all ages. 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. If you do come to work out, don’t push yourself too hard. Go for an easier workout and wipe down your equipment after. (You should do that anyway, but especially when dealing with a cold).


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. You should not work out and let your body heal itself and fight the flu.

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. 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. If you work out anyway (believe me I have personal experience), your body is not able to recover from your workout. Your whole system is fighting to get you well and does not have time to recover your muscles, so you’ll be sore afterward. It makes more sense to rest and hydrate for a couple of days (or longer) so you can get back on your feet first.

Your body will thank you and we are thanking you. We can’t wait for you to come back after you are not contagious anymore and are feeling like yourself again.

Ester Marsh, ACSM Cpt

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