Hey guys, Mitko aka Fitness Consistency Coach here and today I want to answer a very common question that comes up whenever someone catches the flu: should you work out when you’re sick?
Sadly, the idea for this post came recently after I myself got the flu and had to decide whether to hit the gym or stay at home and rest.
So I thought, why not at least make something good out of it all and write a helpful piece of advice for those of you who may find yourselves in the same situation in the future.
Anyway, to answer that question, first we have to look at…
As you know, there’s an undeniable correlation between the stress we experience and our health and well-being.
In another blog post I talked about the 2 categories of stress – eustress and distress.
To quickly reiterate, eustress is the type of stress that is beneficial to us and our bodies.
In fact, that’s the whole premise of fitness and bodybuilding. We put stress on our systems in the gym and if we’re healthy, well-nourished and well-rested, our bodies adapt by growing bigger and stronger.
But what if that stress is just too much for us to handle and our bodies can’t adapt?
Well, that’s called distress and it can be disastrous to our health and well-being.
Now, what you also have to realise is that there are different types of stress – there’s physical, psychological, environmental and lifestyle stress.
And the sum of all those types of stress is what your body has to withstand and adapt to.
So to decide whether or not it’s a good idea to workout while sick you have to take into consideration both the stress caused by the workout AND the stress caused by the flu.
On its own, a solid workout is great for you since it’s just the stimulus needed to trigger an adaptation response in your body.
But when you stack the stress caused by the flu on top of the stress caused by a grueling workout session, that’s a recipe for disaster.
How To Tell If Working Out While Sick Is OK
Basically, it’s up to you to gauge how bad your flu is and whether a workout would worsen things or not.
It’s also up to you to decide whether to go all out or back off a bit if you do decide to hit the gym.
The fact that you decided to go doesn’t mean that you now have to go beast mode and try to beat personal records.
It might be a good idea to do a deload or cut the volume down – or both.
Anyway, if I had to give you some general guidelines, my recommendations would be the following:
– If you’re healthy, execute your training plan as laid out and give it all you’ve got.
– If you only have symptoms like a sore throat, coughing, runny or congested nose, I would still work out but I would cut down on the volume or the intensity – or both.
– If you also have symptoms like muscle or joint pain, headaches, fever, malaise, diarrhea or vomiting, I’d advise you to just stay at home until you get better.
Lastly, if you stayed out of the gym because of the flu, once it’s gone and you’re healthy again, don’t just jump into your training routine at the intensity and volume at which you operated before getting sick.
Instead, ease into your training routine by gradually raising the intensity and volume.
A good rule of thumb is to ease back into your training routine in proportion to the length of your sickness.
So if you were sick for 4 days, then make sure to take at least 4 days to ease back into your regular routine.
Getting sick sucks…
But it happens so it’s important to know what to do when it does.
I hope this post clarified things for you so you know what to do next time you get the pesky flu.
As always, if all of this training and nutrition stuff is making your head hurt and you want someone to take out all of the guesswork and tell you exactly what to do to get the body you want, I’d be glad to lend a helping hand.