Thursday, March 25, 2010

Should you work out when you're sick?

The should-be-glorious month of March hasn't been a happy one for our family. Three weeks ago, I came down with the worst cold of my life. It started as an innocent little sore throat, turned into a nasty cough (that still hasn't completely gone away), and a lovely sinus infection. I usually pride myself on NOT getting sick, so I don't even think twice when my snotty-nosed children take sips out of my precious water bottle. All three of us ended up with this nice end-of-winter tribute.

Normally when I'm sick, I don't really change my workout routine. I typically feel better after a good workout. This time, however, a few pain-in-the-lung jaunts on the treadmill changed my mind. I didn't lace up my workout shoes, or put on my fat-girl-in-a-little-workout-shirt (I desperately need maternity fitness gear) for TWO WEEKS!

Did you know, by the way, that exercisers in general tend to get sick less often than our sedentary friends? I don't think this applies to pregnant exercisers. I catch everything! Anyway, experts like to cite a rule of thumb when deciding whether or not to lace up the sneakers when you're sick. It's called "the neck rule." If all of your symptoms are located in the neck and above, you should be okay to's probably just a head cold. However, if you have a fever, or congestion in your lungs or chest, or if you feel achy, you need to lay low. But helloooo...would anyone with a fever SERIOUSLY try to work out? Yuck! If you're tempted (please tell me you're not), don't. You'll end up with more serious complications like dehydration.

But honestly, use common sense. Listen to your body. I started out knowing I was getting sick, and I worked out anyway. I felt way worse after the workout than I did before. And if you ever need a good excuse to sit at home watching TV? I'd say that being sick is a pretty good one.

Staying inside for two weeks, however, made me absolutely crazy! The weather is FINALLY getting warm, and I just wanted to leave the house to feel some sunshine on my pasty-white skin!

On Monday, I was super excited to get back into my routine. I dropped my son off at preschool, and headed to the gym. As I sped happily along with my daughter in tow, I couldn't wait to drop her off at the Kids' Club for some ME time. All of my hopes were dashed, however, when she--out of nowhere--threw up ALL OVER HERSELF AND THE CAR. I hate it when my babies throw up. I turned around, went home, spent the next few hours cleaning her (and everything in the car) up. I prayed it would only last 24 hours, but no such luck.

It has been a sad, sad week. We're still stuck inside. My daughter threw up for three days, my son for one. I've been cleaning up lots of vomit and that-which-comes-out-the-other-end. My sweet little girl has fallen asleep on the bathroom floor, the kitchen floor, the couch, my lap, and everywhere else she could get comfortable. Poor thing. As for working out, I'm happy to say that I've been able to use lots of my work-out-at-home "Plan B" options.

Today, I feel like things will be okay. I've had two starving children who have kept everything down for over 24 hours. Next Monday is supposed to be in the upper-60's! We will sit on the front porch if we have to, but we are going outside, dangit! Some Vitamin D--the sunshine vitamin--is just what the doctor ordered to keep these winter sicknesses away! I can't wait!

What about you? Do you work out when you're sick? What about when your kids are sick? Are you as excited about the warmer weather as I am?


Michael said...

Well, I don't have kids, so I can't say whether I work out or not when they're sick. When I'm sick, I'm usually out for the count, especially if it's below-my-throat sick. I will take any excuse to sleep all day, but being sick is the best one I can think of. In the past I have used the same logic you cited. If it's above my throat, I will work out, because when it's above my throat, I feel fine. When it goes to my chest, however, I feel like crap, and use that as an excuse to mope around and do nothing but eat and watch TV and sleep.

Trenda said...

I agree that it's best to eat a plant based diet. I dabble in it here and there and eat lots of veggies, it's just so hard to give it up completely . . . especially for social reasons. Good for you for going for it. My parents ate a raw vegan diet for about a year and now do about 75% or so. So many of their health problems are completely gone now! Through my own experiences and watching them I have learned that there are 4 things that people are very opinionated and passionate about. Politics, Religion, Medicine, and Food!! Good luck. Another site I enjoy is by a lady who is raising 5 kids on an organic, raw, vegan diet. It's pretty interesing and has lots of food ideas for kids.

Judi said...

Sorry you've had a sick house! I think the worst kind of sick is the stomach bug. It just requires so much clean up!

It sounds like you're really taking off with the less meat diet. Good for you. I think I told you we try to just do meat once a week. But we have chickens so we do eat eggs.

Hope everyone is on the mend soon. I too am so ready for warmer weather!

Annakaisa said...

No, you shouldn't. We had a gym teacher in Finland who did that, got muscle infection in his heart, and died. And he was pretty young.
I've been sick all week, and I've passed the gym with out feeling quilt of any kind. When you are sick, I think it's time to give your body a break.

Toni McAlister said...

@ Annakaisa ~ I'm pretty new to running so my body is adjusting but I agree with you. When I've become ill and through a new passion of running I've gone out it ends up putting me out of commison, not worth it. I get irritated. Best to let your body get well so your running is more freeing than it was prior to the sickness :-)

On The Road... said...

It's a fine line... on one hand, I feel like working out gets my blood pumping and sometimes helps me clear out the germs... but the biggest thing your body needs is rest to heal itself which is why prime athletes always tend to get more colds when intensely training. It's a toss up.