When can I work out again after flu?

flu So I’m on day four of one of the nastiest flus I’ve ever had in my life. It started Thursday with chills, nausea, headache. On Friday I just took it easy but had a sore throat and was congested. By Saturday evening I was nauseous again and early Sunday morning I was very, very sick. To date, I’ve lost 8lbs. Gross. But despite still feeling miserable, all I want to do is get back to a routine.

So I was curious to find out when it would be safe for me to return to exercise, so naturally I started googling. It’s hard to believe, but despite still feeling awful, I cannot wait to lace up my shoes and ditch the couch for fresh air.

The first thing that’s a good indicator is your resting heart rate (as long as you know what it is when you are healthy!) “Elite athletes check their resting heart rate daily,” says Dr Mark Wotherspoon, a sports physician with the English Institute of Sport. “If the resting level is 10 beats per minute above normal, this would be an indicator not to train.”

As I’ve posted before, generally we go by the rule of thumb that anything above the neck and you’re safe to train, howeve, anything below the neck (in the chest etc.) and you should rest.

But is it safe to sweat out a cold? According to Dr. Alex Nieper: “Bringing up your body temperature is a way of fighting a virus,” says “But keep the activity light to moderate – and brief.” He went on to say that hard exercise will actually compromise the immune system, which ultimately allows the virus to strengthen its hold. So if you exercise with major cold symptoms (e.g.: fever) you can prolong your illness and it can be very dangerous.

The best part of my googling came when I read this, “There’s a tendency to think that if you miss a couple of days of training, it’s a disaster. But the quality of your training is at least as important as the quantity. Training when you’re not 100% well isn’t going to give you that quality.” AMEN.

With that, it goes without saying that it’s important to return to exercise with caution.

  • Take time to monitor how you feel
  • Stay hydrated (especially if you’re a sucker like me and just had a stomach bug),
  • Avoid getting wet and cold
  • Look out for telltale signs that you are overdoing it (e.g.: work-out feeling harder than it should, shortness of breath, weakness or dizziness.

Sports medicine peeps recommend that you start with a gentle 10-minute work-out and see how it feels. If that’s OK, gradually increase the challenge the next day, and again the day after. If you’re still feeling fine, you can gradually work your way back to where you were. But they warn:  Don’t try to make up for lost time. Push too hard, too soon, and you might end up back where you started.

TIPS to stay well when exercising

Stay well hydrated Dehydration dries up the mucous membranes, allowing infections to take hold.

Eat and drink after training Within half an hour of training, eat a carb-based meal or snack with a little protein to help maximise the replenishment of fuel stores.

Take probiotics A new Australian study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that taking probiotics during winter training more than halved the number of days endurance athletes suffered cold symptoms.

Don’t overtrain Balance your training with adequate rest and recovery. One study found that runners who average more than 96km a week were twice as likely to suffer from colds as those running less than 32km.

Wash your hands after the gym “The best advice is to not touch your nose or eyes when exercising and to wash your hands when you finish your workout,” says Professor Eccles.

Don’t linger in damp clothing after exercise As you cool down after a work-out, the cold, damp clothes will lower your body temperature further, making you more susceptible to catching a cold.

Info/Tips from Guardian UK

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