If you’re a fitness junkie, you no doubt have heard this question several times: is it better to exercise or rest when sick?
The good news is, while many people believe that it is a bad idea to work out when sick, you can and you might be surprised at all the potential benefits to your body.
The bad news is, you can’t use being sick as an excuse to take a day off from exercise.
Chances are you are going to get sick at one point this year, and this information will help you to determine whether exercise or rest when sick is the best medicine for gaining back your strength.
Your body is under constant attack each day from fungi, viruses, and bacteria, all determined to knock you off your feet and get you sick. Your body has several defense mechanisms in place like acid barriers in the stomach, mucous lining in the nasal passages, and white blood cells that kill off any intruders, but you probably didn’t know that certain exercises can also aid in the defense against sicknesses.
How the Right Exercise Can Help
Moderate exercise such as jogging, walking, yoga, cycling, and swimming, for 30-60 minutes stimulates innate immunity and strengthens adaptive immunity.
Working out too long, however, can actually increase your risk of getting and staying sick.
During your first day of being sick, if the symptoms are minor like sore throat or cough, low intensity exercising is best.
During day two of your illness, as long as you are not vomiting or have a high fever, then light exercises for up to 45 minutes are ideal.
As long as the illness doesn’t worsen, continue moderate exercise (keeping your heart rate under 150 beats per minute) until conditions improve.
As long as you are not suffering a severe illness that has knocked you off your feet, a low intensity workout during the first days of your illness will have the biggest impact.
Check out this infographic from Dr. John Berardi, Ph.D of Precision Nutrition for more details:
Featured photo credit: John Berardi, Ph.D – Precision Nutrition via precisionnutrition.com