A common question that comes up is whether one should exercise when feeling a bit under the weather. To answer this question there are a few other questions that need to be considered:
What type of exercise will you be performing?
The intensity of exercise is one of the biggest factors that determines whether the exercise will benefit you or in fact make you worse. As a general rule, low to moderate intensity exercise can boost your immune system function acutely. Movement helps to clear out the lymphatic system, as well as driving the blood around the body to deliver those all important immune cells. However when exercise intensity raises up to vigorous, your immune system can actually be further depleted for a few days after you exercise. Vigorous exercise is more likely to produce inflammation in the body. When you get sick, you often already have increased inflammation in the body, hence further inflammation only exacerbates your current condition.
Do you feeling like you are getting sick or do you feel run down?
There is a difference between feeling like you are contracting a virus or infection, and generally feeling “run down”. When you feel you have contracted a condition, often light to moderate exercise will assist and be beneficial. However if you feel as though you are run down, it may be best to avoid exercise and concentrate on keeping well hydrated, eating nutritious foods and getting the rest and recovery you need.
Are you eating and sleeping normally?
This is another important indicator of how well we are feeling. When our bodies are very unwell, it tends to interfere with our normal day to day activities such as sleep and our appetite. If you are finding that you are not sleeping well or have lost your appetite, then your exercise should be light if at all.
Remember that while a healthcare professional may know more about the body than you do, you know more about YOUR body than they do so trust your gut instincts.