I thought I would do a quick blog on this time of year and exercise. There are a few things that may influence our exercise during the next few months. Yes, stress will be a major factor but I am talking more about coughs, colds, flu, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and so on.

Can we exercise when we are sick?

The short answer to the question is, listen to your body. It is as simple as that. When we are sick with a cold or flu our bodies are using up vital energy. Energy trying to fight the bugs that caused us to be sick in the first place. If we then decide to go and run a 5k the energy switches from making us better to attempting the 5k. In short, it could make us much worse which will take even longer to recover from.

Our CV system

Our cardiovascular (CV) system is made up of our heart, lungs, arteries, veins and so on. If our lungs are already inflamed fighting off a chesty cough and we decide to run a 5k then this could make us worse.

An overnight bike ride

Let me put this into an experience. With a cold I was about to complete an overnight 100km (62 mile) bike ride. I should have been at home in bed recovering but I was at the start line at 2330. Riding through the night breathing in the continuous cold air was not a good idea. My body ached, I struggled uphill as I couldn’t breathe properly and I eventually made it to the finish line. Lets just say it was more of a collapse over the finish line. I was exhausted. Later that day my chest hurt, my cough sounded like a barking dog and I had a temperature. My mother was less than sympathetic (“it’s your own fault” she said) and I ended up with a chest infection. Several years later if I get a cold it always goes straight to my chest (a reminder for being such an idiot). The long and short of it was, I should have been in bed.

Temperature

Again if you have flu or a high temperature then attempting a high intensity class will only make you warmer. If the body gets too hot then it will shut down and you will faint. Not a great thing to do in the middle of a crowded gym.

But can I exercise?

If you are like me and you are determined to get into the gym then here is my top 5 things to do if you feel you really do need to work out.

  • Stay in bed
  • Drink a hot drink (water, lemon, ginger and honey can do wonders)
  • Watch TV
  • Eat chocolate
  • Call lots of people to give you sympathy

There you go.

No, in all seriousness if you are determined then here is the “real” list.

  • Slow to medium walking on a treadmill (no incline)
  • Cycle (not a spin class)
  • Lift little weights (no 100kg’s)
  • No high intensity/circuits/or anything that will get you out of breath
  • Some light stretching

Your body needs the time to recover and it is time you will need to give it.

When you feel better

When you feel better you will need to again listen to your body. Depending on how much time you have had off you will need to let your body get back into the swing of things. Don’t assume after 2 weeks off you can do straight into lifting 100kg’s or sprint for 2 minutes. Give your body time to get back to where it was.

SAD (seasonal affective disorder)

Now, there is one condition you may get around this time of year and it is SAD. SAD is a type of depression that presents itself during the winter months. The 3 best ways to help SAD is getting as much natural light as possible (sunshine) , exercising regularly and keeping stress away. For more information on SAD please visit the NHS website.

Listen

As I keep saying, during the next few months listen to your body. Let the main symptoms disappear and then get back into your exercise routine. Don’t beat yourself up about not being able to make a circuits class. It is much better that you recover first rather than collapsing mid-class. Even I have been known to say “I think I need to sit on the couch tonight”.

-Helen