Dara Duff-Bergeron: Sweaty Mummy


Can You Work Out When You're Sick? And Should You?


working out when you're sick

You have a runny nose and your head feels like it's the size of Lake Michigan. Should you exercise when you're feeling under the weather? Maybe. Here's how to decide.

The Handy Chart That Will Tell You If You Have A Cold Or Flu

We've already had a couple of viruses around our house, with Sweaty Kid #1 being in kindergarten and Sweaty Kid #2 visiting our local parenting drop-in centre virtually every day as well. (Not to mention the fact that I come into close physical contact with various people and their offspring every day.) We are like fish in a barrel for all those colds floating around. Meaning we are easily shot. Or at least our immune systems are. 

One of the excuses I hear most (and, yes, I am using the word "excuse" instead of "reason" intentionally) from clients and mommies in our Belly Bootcamp classes is,

"I can't work out today because I'm sick."

If you live in the northern hemisphere, where we spend virtually half of the year indoors hiding from all that white stuff that should be arriving any day now, you are going to get sick. I know there are those people who don't get sick. I used to be one of those people. And then I had children. So maybe I should say, if you live in the northern hemisphere and have children, you are going to get sick. Probably tomorrow. Just warning you. 

By the way, when is the last time you washed your hands?... 

You don't need to completely immobilize your body just because you are fighting off a virus. I know it's a great excuse to catch up on Netflix but maybe you can trade one hour of "Homeland" for a brisk walk in the fresh air?

Walk Your Way Slim: How You Can Get Running Results From Walking

Here are some workout ideas that will get oxygen to your body, circulate your blood, wake up your brain and improve your mood without straining your immune system any further:

cold and flu

  • a yoga class
  • a brisk walk on a treadmill or outdoors
  • a light to moderate cardio or stretching DVD at home
  • a light jog if you are the jogging type (you are the jogging type if a light jog pretty much feels the same as a brisk walk does to a non-jogger)
  • a Pilates class
  • a playground trip with your little ones that involves something more than you instagramming them from the bench (what? who does that?...)
  • light to moderate strength training with adequate rest periods between exercises, as needed
  • sex? If you haven't gone to that ugly sick place and can convince someone to join you, that is

All jokes aside, you can really do pretty much anything that you are up for when you are under the weather. It is less an issue of safety and more an issue of energy. When you are sick, you will generally not have the energy for a killer workout; you are probably not eating as well, maybe not sleeping as well and definitely spending some energy on fighting off that virus. That's ok. Your body will tell you what it is capable of, and not every workout needs to be killer.

The above applies to your run-of-the-mill runny nose, sneezing, popping a couple of daytime cold pills before you head to the office kind of sick. Now, if you are SICK SICK exercise may be off the menu. If you have any of the following symptoms I recommend you drink lots of fluids and rest your bones until you feel just regular person sick again (or, hey, maybe even well!):

  • aches & chills
  • a congested cough or shortness of breath
  • diarrhea or nausea
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • a fever
  • dehydration or inability to eat

Moving your body is essential every day and if you use NOT FEELING 100% as an excuse to be inactive, then WHEN THE HELL ARE YOU GOING TO WORK OUT? I don't know about you but ever since that first egg implanted 6.5 years ago I have been just shooting for 99%, personally. Whether it's a sleepless night, an achy joint, a bad mood or a runny nose—there is always going to be that 1% of you (or more) that doesn't feel like putting on those running shoes. Ignore it. Even if all you do is throw your kid in the stroller and head to the nearest park, you'll be glad you did.