Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Should I Exercise While I'm Sick?

I recently read an article from Rodale.com that brought up the question I have always asked myself, “Should I exercise while I’m sick?” I once heard it was a good idea, so when I have a cold, I actually do exercise. And for me, it makes a difference. I feel 100x better after forty-five minutes treck on the elliptical. And honestly, while I have had a few colds already this season, I’ve been flu-free for a very long time!—something I credit to staying healthy and active J.

David C. Nieman, DrPH, FACSM, conducted a 1,000-person study to find the correlation between exercise and catching a cold.  Here are some of his findings:
1.      Those who were physically active, lean, and ate plenty of fruit had fewer sick days (1/3 to be exact) than those who did less physical activity and were overweight.
2.      When those who were physically active got sick, symptoms were less severe.
3.      People who engage in moderate levels of activity while sick can reduce their sick times by up to half. Moderate activity includes exercise for at least 45 minutes five to six days a week.

But these findings are for colds only. Nieman says that if you are seriously ill or have a viral infection, exercise may make the illness worse or last longer.  So stick to resting!

Here are a few exercise tips for staying healthy during cold and flu season:
-          Stuffy nose, sore throat, cold symptoms…get active!
-          Aches, pains, fevers, diarrhea, chest congestion, swollen glands…rest, rest, rest!
-          When you have a cold, make sure your exercise isn’t too rigorous.  Try a brisk walk for 45 minutes.
-          If you are recovering from the flu, don’t jump into intense exercise right away. Ease back into your routine.

Thank you for the tips, Rodale!

~ Hannah
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