We are heading into cold and flu season, and as I write this I am sick with a chest cold that took me OUT for a number of days. I’m still not feeling awesome, and am trying to still teach as many of my classes as I can without making myself worse, which can be difficult. It’s something that I’m asked all the time though, “should I exercise when sick?”
So here is the skinny. If you have the flu or any type of stomach bug – stay the heck home! Nobody wants you out and you definitely have zero business exercising! When it comes to colds, if it is a head cold you can still exercise if you feel up to it, and it may actually help you get over the cold faster. But if you are feeling tired and worn down, your best bet is resting. It also depends on the type of exercise, few people with a head cold are going to feel comfortable in downward dog, so you might feel like skipping your weekly yoga class. However, you might feel just fine doing some strength training, or even a light cardio class.
If you have a chest cold (i.e. me), your respiratory system is compromised and you really should stay away from exercise until you are well.
This week I’ve been wearing the “just breathe” motivate wrap from Momentum Jewelry that they sent me a while back, to remind me to stick to the basics, like breathing, until I’m feeling better.
But Suzi, you just said you were stilling exercising while you are sick….
Well I do, and I don’t. When I’m sick with any type of stomach issue, it’s a done deal – all classes are cancelled until I’m better. There is no exception here. If I have a cold, I cancel as many of my classes as I can, but as a self employed person who doesn’t have “sick time”, there are times when I have to just pull it together and teach anyway. And when that happens, that’s what I do – teach. Teaching an exercise class doesn’t necessarily mean exercise. In Zumba it’s hard to get away without doing the class, but on those occasions I fill my playlist with songs my class likes – and knows – so they can “push it” while I instruct, and keep my movements as small, low intensity and definitely low impact as humanly possible. Is it ideal? No, but sometimes life isn’t ideal.
I’m sure you all know what I mean when I say during a cold there are always a couple really rough days, and then while you still don’t feel great, you pretty much feel well enough to go about your regular day. Well, I don’t teach at all on those rough days, and then when I start feeling better, that’s when I put the “teach, don’t do” plan into effect, because realistically I can’t take two weeks or more off from work because of a cold.
So while your instructor might show up to teach when they aren’t feeling top notch, remember – they aren’t necessarily doing the class, they are teaching it. And while taking the class is your recreation or fun, teaching it is their job so they might be forced to work when they don’t always feel 100%.
So when you get sick, don’t decide whether or not YOU should go to your fitness class or for your workout based on what your instructor would do (I’ve had lots of people come while sick and say, “I knew you’d still come if you were sick…”). Listen to your body and if you have a head cold and feel rotten – stay home. If you have a head cold but are feeling better and like you want to exercise, go for it! If you have a dry nagging cough or a chest cold, well then you had better stay home and rest.
Do as I say, not as I do. Because when I’m sick, I’ll be teaching, not doing.