You’ve set a New Year’s Resolution to get in shape. You’ve picked out an exercise regimen and you’ve been following it (almost) meticulously. You feel like you’ve just started to make some progress when suddenly, it happens.
You get sick.
There’s been several bugs going around, and your friends have been dropping like flies with flulike symptoms, so it was really only a matter of time until you caught it. But now that you feel feverish, weak, stuffed up and generally icky, the last thing you want to do is get out and exercise. So how do you stick to your fitness goals when the flu has you out for the count?
First of all, you should listen to your body.
If your body tells you to stay in and sleep, you should probably just stay in and sleep. Oftentimes, exercising while ill does more harm than good, and could actually set you back farther on your fitness goals than if you had just taken a break to get better.
However, there are some ways you can continue your exercise plan despite the flu if you’re worried about falling behind:
The Neck Rule
This is possible one of the most well-known rules for exercising while sick. Are your symptoms above the neck, or below? If your symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, or sinus congestion (symptoms above the neck), you’re probably okay to engage in some light exercise. However, if you have a chesty cough, a fever, or nausea (symptoms below the neck), then you should issue yourself a raincheck on today’s workout and get some rest.
Rethink Your Workout
If you’ve decided that your stuffy nose isn’t enough to keep you from getting in shape, you should reevaluate the workout itself. Start at about 75% off your normal intensity at most. Try low-intensity exercises like yoga, or power walking, and decrease the number reps you usually do for weight training. Avoid going to the gym or group classes, as you could easily infect someone else with your sickness!
The 10-Minute Check
Take breaks every 10 minutes while working out to check in with your body. If you feel any sicker than you did 10 minutes before, then it’s time to stop for the day. Starting to feel dizzy, nauseous, or weak? This is a big sign to pack up the yoga mat right away and get yourself into bed, stat.
Recommended Recovery Time
For most colds, you can expect to be off your game for at least one week, maybe even two. For severe illnesses, like the flu, you should refrain from exercising for two to three weeks. After that, ease yourself into working out again. Don’t push yourself or you could end up relapsing, putting you out of commission for even longer!
No matter what, remind yourself that this setback is only temporary. A couple weeks of rest won’t make your fitness goals unreachable. Let your body heal, and then get back on track toward achieving your goals! And for more advice, tips, and content like this, make sure you subscribe to our email list.