Marsh column: When you don’t feel 100 percent

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Q. When you are not feeling 100 percent is it OK to workout?
A. Great question with the cold and flu season just around the corner.
Honestly, my staff and I and other members would rather have you stay home!
Don’t get me wrong, we love seeing you, but when you know you are under the weather you don’t do anyone a favor by working out, especially yourself.
The common cold is the most diagnosed and frequent ailment 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 to prevent the flu 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 know you are 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. For both flu and colds, doctors recommend rest and plenty of fluids. If you work out anyway ó believe me I have personal experience with this ó 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 help your muscles recover after your workout.
You were already aching. Now throw some major muscle soreness on top of that and see how that feels.
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. We can’t wait for you to come back AFTER you are not contagious anymore and are feeling like yourself again.
Ester Marsh is associate executive director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA. Contact her with health and fitness questions at 704-636-0111 or