What’s the number for the gym? I’m calling in sick!

I’m a fairly healthy person.  I eat well (usually), I take my multi, I drink my superfood antioxidant drink, I exercise, and I meditate regularly.  I don’t get sick very often.  But last week, it happened – I got taken hostage by a head cold.

When I do get sick, I get really wimpy.  I stay home from work, I eat chicken  noodle soup, I drink gallons of echinacea tea, and I sleep to the humming sounds of my lovely humidifier. 

So when it comes to the daily dilemma, “Should I work out?”, I usually give that an “Ummm, I don’t think so!”  How could I possibly think about putting forth any physical exertion when I have to blow my nose every 3 minutes?  Oh no, I must get some rest.

Funny thing is, I usually feel worse after lying in bed all day versus when I’m up and around doing stuff.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m taking my mind off how miserable I feel, or if getting the juices flowing actually does help.  It’s probably a combination of the two.

My husband used to be the ultimate in whining like a baby while he’s sick.  I have to give him credit for being much better at that now though.  So I recently asked him if it’s okay to work out when you’re sick. 

When I asked him this, I almost cringed as I waited for the answer because I knew if I didn’t get the answer I wanted, I wouldn’t have an excuse anymore for being lazy and sitting on my butt feeling sorry for myself.

His answer was basically “it depends.”

“It depends on what?”  I asked. 

“If it’s just a cold, it should be fine.  There’s tons of information on that.  You should look it up,” he said.

Great, he’s doing this whole “you would do yourself well by researching this topic yourself” thing, I thought to myself.  I guess I’ll learn something.

Okay, okay.  So I looked it up myself, and here’s a quick test to determine if you should work out while you’re sick.  Ask yourself the following question:

Are my symptoms above or below the neck?

  • If it’s above the neck – runny/stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat – it’s okay to do a moderate workout.
  • If it’s below the neck – chest congestion, upset stomach, fever, body aches/chills, cough – you should take a temporary hiatus from the gym.

Dammit.  That means I should have gotten in a moderate workout at home last week while I had my cold.  (I still think it’s good I stayed away from the gym, otherwise I would have been spreading the love by sneezing all over the equipment.) 

Even if it’s a brisk walk or doing a quick circuit to some fun music, moving around will get your circulation going, lift your spirits, and might help clear up some of the congestion.

As all the experts say, however, listen to your body.  If you start hacking up a lung or sneezing like one of Snow White’s roommates, turn it down a notch and take it easy.  But make sure you’re being honest with yourself and not just making excuses.  Drink more water than you normally do, and get plenty of sleep. 

And I highly recommend a cup of hot tea, a warm blanket, and a Friends marathon.  Laughter is a great cure for the winter cold blues.