Exercising when sick can delay recovery and can spread the infection; symptoms above and below neck are a key guideline

Feeling under the weather? Be careful about exercising; doing it when sick can do more harm than good.

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“Depending on where a person experiences symptoms of illness can make or break his or her workout and recovery,”  Karin Richards, acting chair of the Philadelphia University of Sciences Department of Kinesiology, said in a news release.

“Those who experience above the neck symptoms such as stuffy noses and sneezing are generally fine to continue their exercise routine. However, those with symptoms below the neck such as a fever, nausea, and muscle aches are urged to stay in bed and recover.”

Flu is widespread in Kentucky, and one child’s death has been attributed to it. Adult flu deaths do not have to be reported.

The flu virus can spread to others up to about six feet away, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is spread when infected people cough, sneeze or talk. It can also be spread by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching your own mouth or nose. In other words, the flu is easily spread in fitness center environments and this is another reason to not exercise when you are sick.

Bed rest is advised for the flu. Here is a list of tips to help those with above-the-neck cold symptoms keep up their fitness goals:

  • Lower the intensity of your workout. If you usually run, walk.
  • Stretch.  Yoga and gentle stretching can make you feel better and relieve congestion and pressure associated with sinus issues.
  • Workout only at home or outdoors until symptoms have gone away, so you don’t infect others.
  • Stay active year round as a way to stay healthy and avoid getting sick.
“There is a fine line between a minor cold and the flu, and it’s important for individuals to stay in tune with their bodies,” Richards said. “A person’s body is stressed when fighting the infection, so placing additional stress through intense exercise only suppresses the immune system even more.” She also recommends seeking the advice of your doctor if you have any questions regarding continuation or resumption of your exercise routine.
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