As the year comes to a close, we are in the midst of cold and flu season. With all of the delicious food we eat during the holidays, it’s important to stay consistent with working out to maximize its effects. But what do you do when you’ve caught a cold? Can you keep exercising or are you on the shelf until the bug goes away? If you have a chronic illness, can exercise help with recovery and treatment?

We know it’s tough to know when you should or shouldn’t work out when you’re sick, so we’ve compiled some helpful information to guide you along and keep you on track for your fitness goals heading into the new year. If you want to get a head start on your New Year’s Resolution, come on into New You Fitness. We’re located right here in Bentonville and we want to help you on your road to a New You.

-Common Cold

A mild to moderate workout is typically not an issue when you’re dealing with a common cold without a fever. A good workout can actually make you feel better, as it can open your nasal passages, which is particularly helpful when you are feeling that stuffy congestion that comes with a standard head cold.

If your symptoms are all above your neck like those usually associated with the common cold, you shouldn’t have an issue working out, though you should think about reducing the intensity and length of the workout. As an example, instead of running, try a brisk walk. So if you have a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, or a minor sore throat, working out is definitely still possible.

-The Flu

This one is a little bit tougher to judge. While it does have many symptoms that would be considered ‘above the neck’, many more of the symptoms are more serious and ‘below the neck’. If you’re dealing with chest congestion, a harsh and consistent cough, or an upset stomach, you’re better off getting some rest. This is especially true when you’ve got a fever, fatigue, or widespread muscle aches.

Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Taking a few days off to recover is better for you than trying to work through it. Come back healthy and gradually start back on your routine as you start feeling better. Attempting to work out at your regular intensity when you have anything more than a common cold is a surefire way to risk injury or further illness.

-Chronic Illness

When you have an illness you have to consistently work around, exercise can actually have a lot of important health benefits. Heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and back or joint pain can all be helped with the right workout regimen. With that being said, it’s imperative you consult your doctor prior to beginning a new exercise routine. They will likely have advice about what exercises are recommended and safe, which ones to avoid, and any precautions you should take so you don’t exacerbate your troubles.

What types of exercise can help with which issues? Here are some examples:

  • Heart disease: Your heart health can be improved with regular exercise. Try a regimen designed around interval training, which has shown benefits for heart disease patients. If you encounter dizziness, unexpected shortness of breath, chest pain, or irregular heartbeat, stop working out right away and consult your doctor.
  • Diabetes: In a constant battle to manage blood sugar levels, regular exercise can help insulin work more effectively when it is lowering your blood sugar. This physical activity can also help with weight control and give you a much-needed energy boost. Keep in mind, physical activity lowers blood sugar levels, so be sure you check your blood sugar before working out. You should probably eat something prior to working out, just to avoid a blood sugar crash.
  • Asthma: It may surprise you, but working out on a consistent basis can actually help control how frequent and intense asthma attacks are.
  • Back pain: A regimen centered around low-impact aerobic exercise has shown positive benefits, as it can help improve the strength and endurance of your back. It can also improve muscle function. Including exercises that work the abdominal and back muscles can help assuage symptoms by fortifying the muscles surrounding your spine.
  • Arthritis: Proper exercise can ease joint pain and stiffness while it maintains and strengthens the affected joints. Consider taking a warm shower before exercising to relax your joints and muscles. It can also help relieve any pain you might be experiencing before your workout. It’s imperative you wear shoes that have a good amount of shock absorption, stability, and arch support to prevent further aggravations of your joints.

If you encounter unexpected pain or discomfort, contact your doctor to discuss what caused it and how to treat it properly. Adding an exercise regimen to your treatment will only benefit you if the lines of communication with your physician are open and clear.

It can be tough to get started with a new exercise routine, and even tougher to stick to it consistently. If you are looking for some extra motivation, guidance, or supportive feedback, call New You Fitness in Bentonville today. With our experienced personal trainers and a wide variety of classes and fitness programs, we know together we can help you on your journey to a New You. We can personalize your routine based on your experience level, past injuries or surgeries, and even temporary or chronic illness. We hope to see you soon!