Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

Should you work out when you’re sick?

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This is a common question from my client community, especially in the waning days of winter. The obvious answer is, “Do you feel like moving about, or would you rather hunker down in bed?” I always recommend that people listen to the messages their bodies give them.  Although it may be counterintuitive to exercise when you don’t feel your best, it can actually boost your immune system and get you better sooner. How do you know when to move, or when to chill?

You may have heard “above the neck, work out, below the neck, don’t. This is a bit simplistic. More specifically, if you have fever, chills, vomiting and/or diarrhea, it obviously doesn’t make sense, and hopefully you’re not even considering it! However, if you have nasal congestion, slight sore throat and other upper respiratory symptoms, getting your heart rate up through exercise is a good idea. It may relieve congestion, get your lymphatic system activated, and even increase T-cell circulation, those wonderful infection fighting cells.

Walking, jogging, swimming, biking, tai chi and yoga are all good picks for exercising when you’re not feeling your best.  Avoid heavy weight and resistance training, endurance exercise (longer than 1.5 hours), high intensity interval training, exercising in extreme temperatures, and team sports.

Can you boost your immunity system through regular exercise? Yes!  Moderate intensity exercise most days of the week is best for boosting your immune system. Both being sedentary and exercising too much (is there such a thing?-yes!) can actually hinder your ability to fight illness. Overexercising – 2-3 hours a day without adequate time for rest and recuperation – along with getting too little sleep and too few calories will also increase your chances of getting sick.

There are some very good guidelines in the following article. Be sure to check out the ways to boost your immunity and try to prevent illness- hint- it involves getting regular exercise- what a surprise!

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