By now, you've probably had your first cold of the season (a couple of nasty bugs have already gone around!). And if you're like us, you probably asked yourself this question: "Do I push myself to go to the gym, or do I stay home until I feel better?"
We asked American Council on Exercise Spokesman Bobby Morrow, who is also a personal trainer in Lexington, N.C., for the final word on whether it's better to pump iron when you're sick or stay home and watch old movies. And the verdict is ....
Stay home! At least most of the time.
"It kind of depends on what level your cold is. If you just have some sniffles and a runny nose, it's probably OK to follow through on your regular workout. If you have a lot of congestion, a headache and you're feverish, I'd recommend staying away for a few days, allowing that energy to be used by the body to heal itself," Morrow suggests. Bonus: How to Stay Sick-Free
If you have the flu, you definitely have no business at the gym (and you probably have no desire to go, anyway!)
"The flu is very hard on the body, and you don't want to pass it around. Even with the common cold, use precautions at the gym to protect yourself and other folks. Even if you don't have a cold, wipe down your equipment and wash your hands. Most gyms have disinfectant spray and towels."
So how do you know when you're ready to go back?
"I tell folks to use their energy levels as a gauge," Morrow says. "When your energy is starting to come back, I would start with getting back to moderate cardio. If you were doing an hour before, do a half hour for the time being. Monitor how you feel until you get back on track."
But if you want to prevent yourself from getting sick in the first place, regular workouts can help.
"Exercise boosts the immune system -- it really makes you stronger from the inside out," Morrow says.
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