I am one of those people who likes to be extremely organized in matters of schedule. If I once managed to shape my schedule in such a manner that it allows me to hit the gym once or twice a week, that’s something I like to stick to, otherwise having excuses is way too easy to escape doing stuff.
So whenever something happens that disrupts my schedule, I am not very happy about it. And one of these things is the flu.
Every time I catch the flu I wonder what the best approach in fighting it is. Sometimes I wonder whether hitting the gym is a valid option or staying in bed and watching movies all day is the best choice.
And before jumping and saying “going to the gym spreads germs”, let’s not take it literally. You can also practice physical exercises at home, without spreading the germs any further. The only question is,
Is physical exercise desirable when ill?
- Let’s talk about the immune system
It’s fair to say that we are constantly surrounded by various bacteria and viruses flying around in the air that we breathe. And the most common way in which they enter our bodies is through the upper respiratory tract. This may refer to colds, sinusitis, influenza, throat infections and middle ear infections.
The good news is that we have our immune system that helps us fight back these germs and bacteria. And the way in which it functions is by interacting and attacking these germs through the lymph nodes, the spleen, and mucus membranes.
- Workout or no workout?
That is the question. But for real now, first of all let’s make a clear differentiation between a hardcore workout and just maybe moving a bit. For some catching a flu might just mean that you want to hit the bed and not even go to the toilet. For others the symptoms might not be that acute though. However, should you experience fever, workout is a definite no for you.
Think about it this way: the moment you are working out, sweating and increasing your heart rate, your entire body is under a certain level of stress. And normally your body can get used to this level of stress, this is why we become fitter and fitter with each workout. And adding this extra stress level on your sick body might be too much for your immune system to cope with.
However, a certain amount of movement is desirable. And instead of just crawling to the couch you can do some non-strenuous moments, such as walking (somewhere outdoor), bike riding, gardening, something not very cardio.
- Moderation is the key
As I mentioned, a high level workout is not the best idea when sick. However, our perception on high level might be different from person to person. So the only judge who can decide how much is too much for your body is you. As long as you don’t push it too much, you might end up feeling more energized after making a bit of movement. However pushing it too hard will only affect your immune system.
- Exercise and immunity
There have been several studies led to depict the relation between exercising and immunity[i]. So we can see clearly that exercising up to three times a week is extremely benefic and helps us avoid getting sick so often. Whereas not exercising at all or, on the contrary, exercising far too much can affect the immune system.
- Factors affecting the immune system
So far we stated the relevance that stress plays when it comes to immunity. We also checked why severe exercising or sedentariness is the bad path to walk. There are, however, various other factors as well, such as age, gender, sleeping habits, climate, altitude, general mood and so much more.
So the general idea is that first of all you need to pay great attention to your immune system because that’s what’s going to offer you the first aid kit in case of a flu.
Also, exercising might be good, if done moderately, but don’t push it too much because you might open up new doors for infections. All in all, drink a lot of tea and stay safe!