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Exercise and Winter Illnesses

Posted on: Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Categories: Exercise, Fitness, Personal trainer

Regular physical activity is a fantastic way of reducing stress and improving your sleep which helps to boost your immune system. Nevertheless, even with the best health precautions winter often brings with it numerous viruses.  This season is often associated with runny noses, spluttering coughs and aching muscles and you may wonder whether it is a good idea to exercise when you are ill even if you feel like it.

If and when you do exercise think about who are sharing your germs with. If you are working out at home then you might consider the people you live with and possibly your personal trainer, but beware of spreading your germs if you visit a gym or leisure centre. These are also places where you can catch that winter bug, so wipe down those machines and wash your hands!

It is well known that exercise is crucial to good health, but there may be times when it is best to give your body a break. Vigorous physical activity can negatively impact on your health if you are ill and may even hinder your recovery. Sometimes, we do need to slow down and the symptoms of illness can be a sign that we shouldn’t do too much. It is important to listen to our bodies and the advice of experts such as your doctor or personal trainer. Whether you exercise or not and to what intensity may depend on the illness or health condition.

Here a few guidelines for physical activity that you should follow when you are ill:

If your symptoms are above the neck, such as a cold with a runny nose or sore throat, it really should be ok to exercise, though if you are suffering from a viral illness it is best to reduce the intensity and duration of your normal exercise routine.

You would be advised not to exercise if you are suffering from certain symptoms such as a high temperature, sickness or diarrhoea, dizziness, shortness of breath or chest congestion.

Other health issues also need to be considered carefully. Those with a heart problem may be putting themselves at risk of additional strain if they exercise when they ill. Physical exertion when under the weather can be a risk for diabetics as well because when they are ill their levels of blood glucose increase and they decrease whilst exercising, so glucose levels need to be monitored more so than usual.

If you aren’t feeling at your physical best, but you have been advised it is safe to exercise and you feel like it, be prepared to lower your expectations. You are unlikely to feel as energised as usual even if you are not ill enough to spend the whole day in bed. Furthermore, when you recover don’t expect to be able to function as highly as before you were ill straight away. It can take time to return to form, so start with half the amount of usual exercise intensity for half the amount of usual time and listen to your body as you increase your physical activity over time.

If you are up to it, it is a good idea to simply get out of the house in order to help you get well. Go for a walk or run to combat ‘cabin fever’ induced through illness and get in a little cardio exercise at the same time. Fresh air and a change of scene can speed up recovery as psychological strategies as well as physical ones impact positively on health.

A personal trainer can help you resume your level of well-being in the shortest time possible using the most effective techniques. These might include a light aerobic routine and walking or cycling at a gentle pace to help you get back into your regular fitness regime. Exercises that cover the major groups such as planks, push-ups, glute bridges and squats can help boost your immune system if carried out in moderation. With a healthy diet plan provided by your personal trainer which is full of vitamin C and D it won’t be long before you are bouncing back to health and remember Spring is only just around the corner!