Like most martial artists, I’m no stranger to blood, sweat and tears. There have been multiple times in the past thirty tears when I’ve “pushed through the pain” and trained and/or worked out even when I felt ill or weaker than I should have. It’s no mystery that high blood sugar and other Diabetic issues can weaken the body’s immune system and make Type-1 Diabetics more prone to colds and other annoying illnesses.
But despite one’s pride and hard-headedness, is it IDEAL to train when one is sick? Depending on who you speak to, recovery time is always the best route. Allowing your body the time it needs to heal is preferable, especially when Diabetic, to pushing your body to where you compromise your immune system and potentially open yourself up to infection.
I’ve been struggling with a cold for the past four days. At the risk of being accused of having “man flu,” my face has been swollen and in pain, sinuses are pooched and I have an extreme lack of energy. Today is one of the first days that I’ve begun to feel better. I’ve stayed off my feet and taken it easy but my wife has suggested that maybe the best medicine would be a solid workout to build up a sweat and burn the illness out of me.
I’ve done some reading from all of my general go-to websites, including WebMD and the Mayo Clinic. I’m surprised to find that most of the sources I consulted all seem to agree on the same limitations and factors when considering working out when sick.
According to a quote on WebMD by Neil Schachter, MD, “if your symptoms are above the neck, including a sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, and tearing eyes, then it’s okay to exercise,” He goes on to explain, “If your symptoms are below the neck, such as coughing, body aches, fever and fatigue, then it’s time to hang up the running shoes until these symptoms subside.” (https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/exercising-when-sick#1)
According to a Q&A response provided by Edward R. Laskowski, MD on the Mayo Clinic’s website, the same “neck check’ rule is to be considered when thinking of working out while sick (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20058494)
The point at which you should NOT work out, includes when one is suffering from a fever. Having a fever puts you at higher risk of dehydration, muscle cramps and aggravated Diabetic issues. Below the neck symptoms that should be considered include vomiting, diarrhea, coughing where something is expelled, body pain and fatigue.
At the end of the day, the decision whether you work out or not falls on your shoulders. If you’re not feeling up to it, don’t do it. Another option, if you feel well enough to do anything, is to simply tone down your workout so that it doesn’t floor you. Take a walk instead of a run. Do Tai Chi as opposed to shadow boxing. And if you are returning to your workout routine, do it gradually.
If your workouts are done in a public setting, such as a gym or fitness centre, then be considerate of others in relation to your illness. Don’t be blowing your nose every five minutes and putting your hands all over the equipment, spreading your phlegm on every surface. Carry a towel and be certain to place it on the bench before you lay on it. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer after you’re done with the equipment. And be certain to scrub your hands with soap and hot water often.
At the end of the day, you and your body will dictate whether you decide to continue exercising or not. Considering my cough, fatigue and all over bodily aches, I don’t regret choosing not to workout over the past several days. And a decent workout can even be beneficial as it can provide benefits such as opening the breathing passages. But I’ll admit that I can’t wait to get back at it. And don’t forget to test your blood sugar often. ☯