Fall is here, and that means flu season has returned. We’ve all been at the gym and seen someone sneezing and coughing all over the equipment. No amount of cleaner is enough at that point. However, we’ve all probably been on the other side of the equation, not wanting to miss a workout but feeling awful and wondering if pushing through is a good idea. At Pro Fitness, we have experienced our share of sick days and seen plenty of people pushing themselves when they should be resting. In today’s blog, we’re going to discuss working out when you’re sick in hopes we can give you some insights to help you decide what to do when you’re the one who is under the weather.

Working Out’s Impact on Your Immune System

Exercise has an impact on your immune system, and when you understand the interaction, you can use working out like a weapon to keep sickness at bay.

Prolonged, Vigorous Exercise

Working out hard for a long period of time will depress your immune system for up to 72 hours. That is why so many marathon runners and other endurance athletes get sick right after their events.

Brief, Vigorous Exercise

This short, intense type of exercise can boost your immunity if you’re already healthy.

Chronic Resistance Training

Consistently weight lifting can stimulate the innate immunity you were born with, shoring up your defenses against germs. Additionally, consistently engaging in moderate exercise can strengthen your adaptive immune system, the immune system that develops over time.

Should You Work Out When You’re Sick?

Some people swear that working out is the perfect boost their immune systems need to kick sickness in the butt. However, depending on the situation, working out can make your sickness worse.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we want to define “working out.” There is a difference between non-strenuous movement and working out. Even if you’ve got the sniffles, some movement can boost your immunity and prevent the sickness from establishing itself. The key is keeping the movement non-strenuous. When we say “non-strenuous,” we mean activities like walking gardening, low-intensity cycling, and practicing T’ai Chi. These activities have been shown to boost immunity and they aren’t hard enough on your body to compromise its immune system, especially when done outside.

The non-strenuous movement we just discussed is different from purposefully working out, which can be high-intensity or low-intensity. A low-intensity workout will make you feel energized, and a high-intensity one will leave you feeling totally drained. If you’re sick but still feeling like you can work out, go for a low-intensity workout. You get to define exactly what is “low” and what is “high” for your level of fitness.

If you work hard in the gym, getting sick can be very frustrating. Unfortunately, with the arrival of cooler weather, chances are good you’ll get sick. The sooner you can get healthy again, the better. Working out properly can be part of the answer to getting better sooner. Visit our fitness center in Warwick today!