Monday, March 3, 2008

How to Workout When You Are Sick (Guest Blog)

Lately, I have had clients who have had the flu, and it is spreading. Knock on wood, I have not had it and don't want it.

Here is a guest blog from Holly Rigsby on recovering if your feeling ill.

Not feeling so good today, but worried about breaking the progress you have made?

I fell off the radar there for a bit as I had to overcome a stomach bug of my own. I know a few of you have also shared that you too have battled with a sickness here and there and now wonder....

"What can I do to make up for lost time?"

"Whats the best workout strategy to help me get back on track?"

First know that it is fine to take time off from your workout plan when you are ill.

REST is the #1 prescription when it comes to recovering from whatever sickness you may be fighting. Nutrition is #2 and I'll cover that one in a moment.

If you have a bout with that notorious bug that seems to make its way around quite quickly, do not fall prey to the pressure to try to workout during this time or make up for time that is lost because of it. Taking this approach will only cause more harm than good.

Just like it is not one meal or one missed workout that causes the damage, a couple days of being ill will not cause you to go back to square one.

First I'll state the obvious.
Do Not Workout If:
* You have a fever
* You feel nauseous
* You are highly contagious

Your body needs the rest.
Trying to workout may only cause you feel worse. Your immune system is working overtime trying to get you better - it will be counterproductive to put your immune system under stress from exercise and may prolong your illness.

It is a myth that you can "sweat out the germs and toxins". Low levels of exercise increase endorphins and benefit your body, but an intense workout that creates high levels of endorphins can wear down your immune system.

If you just have a minor cold - it is okay to go through your workout, at a less intense pace. Doing so will help you to feel better and allow you to breath easier for it will help to open up your nasal passages.

How to Get back on Track:

Wait at least one to two days after you are over the worst of it.

1. Engage in a light workout.
The purpose here is to EASE back in to your normal workouts. Do not expect to go all out at this point. I would suggest choosing to start off with a less intense version of your intervals or a modified resistance training workout. If either of these options includes jumping, you may wish to find a substitute.

Options may look like:

Intervals - instead of a normal 1 min. low/1 min. high, choose to perform 2 minutes low, 1 minute high but all variables are less intense than your regular interval session. This may extend your time spent and that is okay. No need to go past 20 minutes....remember the goal is to EASE back into your routine.

Resistance Training Workout - you have a couple options here. Depending on your fitness level and how you are feeling, you may choose to complete a beginner level, body weight based workout.

You may choose to go through the workout once. So instead of completing 3 super sets, you just complete one set of each exercise taking sufficient time between each for rest as needed.

You may choose to pick 2-4 exercises within your workout and complete 2-3 super sets.

Afterwards you can judge how you are feeling to see if you are up to a light interval session.

2. Make sure you have something to eat.
This needs to be stated, for when we are sick, our appetite diminishes, but our body needs the fuel, not just to go through a light workout, but to also help your body to recover from being ill. Make sure you eat something light at least an hour before hand.

3. Stay Hydrated: Before, during and after.
This VERY important!
Fevers burn up body fluids and you lose extra water and fluids from your skin, lungs and digestive tract if it is infected with intestinal germs. This concern is doubled if you have been unable to keep anything down.

You will lose even more body fluids during a workout when you sweat. So when you are recovering from an illness and you begin to workout again, it is common for your thirst reflex goes on the blink, and very easy to forget to drink.

4. Stop if you feel light headed - do not attempt to to keep going.

5. Take some extra time to cool down.
At the end of your workout, factor in some time to take a leisurely walk or work in some light stretching.

Bottom line - Listen to your body!

As far as nutrition goes.....while there is not a lot we can do in terms of exercise while we are sick, we have 100% control over the foods we choose to eat.

This is the perfect time to fill your body with good soups and juices filled with only natural goodness to help accelerate your recovery.

What about my results?
Your progress will not be hindered by a few days off from your regularly challenging workouts and your consistent nutrition plan. Getting sick is a VERY normal set back and you WILL bounce back easily if you choose to follow these guidelines.

Give it a couple days and once you get your energy and strength back you'll feel great and want to exercise again. Many of us find a whole new drive after taking this time to recover. Just be sure you give yourself the time and the nutrients to recover and you will be back on track before you know it!

So here are my GET WELL SOON wishes if you are still feeling like crap. Know that it will soon pass and you will not have lost any of the progress you have made - instead you will come back stronger and more eager than ever to move ahead!!

Holly Rigsby is the author of FitYummyMommy.


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