A range of to research connections regular exercise with better immune functionincluding a scientific journal published in 2019 that says exercise has an anti-inflammatory effect and can improve defense activity. But what if you are sick?
If exercising when you’re well provides so many benefits to your immune response and reduces inflammation, it would make sense that at least a small burst of activity when you’re sick could give you a boost. , is not it ?
Not so fast. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tend to work that way, according to Chicago-based internal medicine physician Vivek Cherian, MD.
“In most cases of illness, it’s better not to exercise your body with a workout,” he says. Runner’s world. “This is because giving yourself enough rest time can shorten your recovery window. Exercising too soon could prolong your illness and keep you out longer than you otherwise would be.
There are a few exceptions to this guideline, so here’s an overview of what to keep in mind if you’re sniffling, have a fever, or test positive for COVID-19 but still feel restless for get on and get moving.
If you have a cold…
Once the symptoms disappear, it is best to wait 2 to 3 days before resuming exercise.
Although colds are caused by viruses like the flu and COVID-19, symptoms tend to be much milder, according to the National Institutes of Health. This includes sore throat, congestion, and runny nose. If these feel minor, almost like allergies, then you’re probably safe to go for a run, but even then you want to dial the intensity back, suggests trainer Mike Matthews, CPT, author of The Little Black Book of Workout Motivation.
“Sometimes you might not even have a cold, maybe it’s just a bad night’s sleep, and all you have is a scratchy throat and you’re a little tired,” he says. Runner’s world. “The trick is to stay aware so you can see how you feel as the workout progresses. Start with a small amount of exercise, such as a walk, and notice if you start to feel less well. I made the mistake of ignoring this and paying later with more severe symptoms.
The tricky part, he adds, is that it’s best to wait two or even three days after cold symptoms disappear before resuming your regular run. If you’re on a streak or just hate the thought of “wasting” a day, Matthews suggests keeping your workouts easier and shorter, like unloading into a strength-training routine.
“For many of us, the challenge is having the discipline to rest longer than necessary,” he says. “But taking your foot off the accelerator is the best way to go.”
If you have the flu…
After the symptoms disappear, it is best to wait 7-10 days to resume exercise.
A bit of congestion and mild fatigue from a cold determine whether to run harder, but when it comes to the flu, there’s usually less doubt, Cherian says. This illness often causes you to experience fever, chills, shortness of breath and exhaustion.
“Absolutely abstain from exercise when you have these symptoms,” he says. In fact, running with a fever is never smart, as it can raise your internal temperature. Cherian adds that it’s best to wait seven to ten days before resuming an exercise routine. While the time frame is different for everyone, he says trying to bounce back faster could cause a relapse and plunge you back where you started.
That said, some symptoms may not be resolved even after 10 days, and in this case the decision to run will usually be made based on the nature of those symptoms.
“If you have a runny nose but feel fine, you can resume exercising,” says Cherian. “If you still have some shortness of breath or congestion, I recommend you wait. Bottom line, if you’re not sure, take it to your GP before resuming your exercise routine .
If you have COVID-19…
Once the symptoms disappear, it is best to wait at least 10 days to resume exercise
As we’ve all heard the umpteenth time, COVID-19 can hit people on drastically different levels, with some having no symptoms and others going to hospital. There are many reasons not to exercise while you have the virus, not only because of the discomfort of the symptoms but also because of the potential damage after recovery, but you should also be careful when you resume exercise after illness. . (Research shows you should be at increased risk of injury.)
According to Matt Fitzgerald, author of Run like a pro (even if you’re slow).
“I was infected at the start of the pandemic and although I seemed to recover, I then developed long COVID-19 and was unable to run for a year,” he says. Runner’s world. “I will never know for sure if returning to training too quickly has contributed to my current state, but as a coach I now take a very conservative approach with my athletes.
This includes respecting published guidelines for those who develop symptoms and/or test positive. Even in the mildest cases, this means 10 days off, followed by a full clinical evaluation and a gradual return to training with close monitoring.
“Take a long view on this one because the old rules don’t apply with Covid,” he says. “Don’t take this virus lightly, recovery is different for this than with other viruses.”
How to resume exercise after illness
Whether you’re dealing with a cold, the flu, or COVID-19 — or maybe even two of these simultaneously, because it’s possible, Cherian says — it’s obvious you want to take it slow when you’re return to your health.
This may mean walking more than running, or even doing a low-impact cross-training activity, like yoga or swimming. Another major consideration is to stay aware, even when you’re feeling well.
“Your symptoms could return and the first signs could be a racing heartbeat or just feeling tired,” says Cherian. “Right now, it’s a good idea to incorporate more rest into your routine even if you’re healthy, given that we’re in the height of sickness season.”
Whatever your illness, heart rate is a smart metric to keep in mind as you return to activity, according to Robert Greenfield, MD, co-founder of California Heart Associates. He says The runner’s world that your heart rate should return to normal a few minutes after your cooldown, but if it’s still elevated for 10-15 minutes, that’s a problem and you should consider getting checked out. That means knowing what’s “normal” for you, which can change as you improve since your cardiovascular system is more efficient, he says. Either way, if you feel your pulse racing when you run and especially if you feel dizzy, these are signs to shorten your run.
Other signs that you should probably slow down to walk are severe fatigue, joint pain, feeling like you can’t catch your breath, nausea, and chills. If your symptoms are severe, like chest pain, shortness of breath, or you feel like your heart is skipping beats, Greenfield says your next stop should be the emergency room.
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