Are you after the answer you want to hear or the one which will see you resting your sorry ass on the couch for at least a week.
There is a grey area involved for anyone that’s powering through their exercise routine on a 3 to 4 day basis each week. We don’t want to stop for anything. Let alone a pesky bacterial cling-on who has made it’s home in our nasal passage.
I’m sick with a chest infection as I write this, so take it from me when I tell you the following information — there is a time for fitness obsession, but this isn’t one of them.
Why do we go to the gym when we’re sick – It’s hard to let go!
The first signs that I’m sick normally slap me in the face with a large trout when i’m sweating before I’ve even walked through the gym door. Something just doesn’t feel ‘quite right’. Sure enough, 12 hours later I’m bed-ridden.
I’m not THAT sick, maybe i can train a little bit
What’s the point. If you aren’t going balls out, then you will hinder your progress. Sending negative feedback to your muscles that the 5 sets you used to do at a set weight you are now only doing 3 sets of (due to being run-down).
Your body will go “Thanks buuuurday! Now I can get a little bit weaker and still handle what you throw at me in the gym-aaaage”.
Because your body sounds like Pauly Shore when it talks.
A little bit of exercise is better than none though surely?
Not when your body’s fighting off infection. Physical exercise will make your condition worse sending you into a downward spiral of mucus-filled awesomeness. If you place further physical stress on your body through exercise, this means that you will be increasing the demand on your body’s resources, thus reducing the effectiveness of your immune system. If this demand is too great, infection can spread.
I’m gonna go to the gym and train anyway… it’s just a little cough
Your fellow gym goers will LOVE you for this. Nothing beats someone coughing their lungs up all over the nearest treadmill. Don’t be surprised if someone pulls a knife on you just to show their approval.
But my gains will go backwards!
No they won’t. You can afford to take a week or so off from the gym. You should be doing this as part of your routine anyway. If i take a week off every few months, i generally come back just as strong if not a little stronger on some lifts as the body has had time to strengthen itself.
Fatigue will be the hardest thing to combat when you return
This is one thing you’ll notice when back in the gym after being sick. It’s as if you’ve been on holiday for a month. The body has been hit pretty hard by illness, and its energy reserves are depleted. You might wanna take it easy on your first few workout sessions back, otherwise you may do yourself an injury or twelve.
So is it ok to go to the gym or exercise when you’re feeling sick and run down?
The simple answer is yes— if you don’t mind taking longer to get better, are partial to a possible injury and enjoy spreading your hate-fuelled diseases. Be smart about your health. The gym will always be there when you get back. You’re likely to hit it with even more gusto than before you fell sick.
Editor’s note: People coughing and spluttering everywhere at the gym are candidates for the Douche-Bag Top 20. Have you ever been caught training when sick? Confess your sins below.