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It’s March and a final (hopefully) round of the flu is sweeping over The Hill. I suppose it’s perfect timing if you recover in time for Spring break, but it’s also less than ideal timing when it comes to your spring-break-prep workouts. A question I always struggle back and forth with is whether I am too sick to workout: will a sweat session make me recover faster or make me sicker? Getting sick when you’re just starting to feel great about your workout program can be extremely frustrating. Not only can it stall your momentum, but it can seem like you’ll have to start all over in order to get your momentum back. Well, the good news is that you won’t have to start from square one. The key is to listen to your body and to figure out what you’re coming down with in order to maximize your workouts despite your illness.

The Golden Rule: If you are only sick above the neck, make your way down to Skoglund for a light cardio, core, and stretching session. Cardio causes an increase in your core body temperature and may even help clear up congestion. In addition, the endorphins that exercise creates can reduce your cold symptoms. However, if you feel additional symptoms throughout your body, including weakness, chills, or body aches and pains, you should skip the workout and give your body the rest that it craves.

Why Am I Always Sick?: Like everything in else in life your body requires balance. A moderate workout may help you feel better, but if you go too hard for too long, your sickness can worsen. Think about it: High Intensity Interval Training puts your body in a highly stressed, extremely vulnerable state, perfect for a virus to sweep in and take over. While incredibly beneficial in many ways, pushing your body too hard too often can stress your immune system to the point of temporary collapse, or just enough for the virus to overcome your body. This is a practical application of why rest days are so important. If you push your body too hard day after day it will run your body down. However, rest days may be just the refresher you need to continue to perform at high levels without sickness putting a halt to your progress. Also consider alternating higher intensity days with lower intensity days so that your body has a chance to recover while still being active. If your goal is weight loss, make sure to be extra diligent with nutrition if you decide to take a sick day, because as the adage goes, “abs are made in the kitchen.”

The Verdict: If you simply have a head cold, make it down to the gym for some light cardio in order to stay in the swing of things and hold true to your workout schedule. However, if you feel sick all over, take it as a sign from your body that you need a rest day and do all you can to actually REST so that you will be as good as new and ready to jump back in as quickly as you can you can say VACATION!









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