Fit Tip: Wellness Workout

Posted On Nov 7, 2019 By Amy Kiser Schemper

A man blowing his nose.

We've all been there before... your alarm goes off to get up for your regular workout and as you open your eyes you feel it: scratchy throat, stuffed up nose, sinus pain.  Or you head out of work on your way to your favorite exercise class but notice you're feeling achy and tired.  Is it the flu, a head cold, or just fatigue?  And the real question... should you workout feeling like this?

As we head into the dreaded cold and flu season, this is a question that comes up a lot.  You think you may be coming down with something but aren't sure, or you're experiencing traditional cold symptoms, but are leery of making something worse.  What do you do?

If you're feeling sick it's always a good idea to check with your medical provider first if you can.  And if you think there's a chance you have something contagious, it's best to stay away from shared workout spaces like gyms or class studios.  But the reality is, we gain energy and often feel better when we get moving, so we don't want to just stop working out when we sniff the first sniffle.

A good general rule to follow is this: if what you're feeling is above the neck (head congestion, runny nose, sore throat, light headache), it's okay to get moving. The increased blood flow and oxygen can even sometimes be helpful. Take it a little easier if you can, and stop if needed. If what you're feeling is below the neck (chest cold, coughing, tummy troubles), it's best to rest and wait until you are feeling better to get back to exercise. And please, do not workout if you are running a fever.

Remember, regular exercise actually improves our immunity! We hear a lot about the role of regular exercise in preventing heart disease, cancers, stroke and chronic illnesses, but exercise actually boosts our immunity and protects us against colds and flus and other upper respiratory illnesses. So along with all the prevention methods (flu shot, hand washing, nutrient dense foods), keep moving! Here are a few simple tips:

Practice the "5 Minute Rule."  If you're like me, you sometimes feel rundown and think "I must be coming down with something!" when in reality, it's just the exhaustion and mental load of a long day. During these times, I like to do what I call "The 5 Minute Rule." I tell myself I'm simply going to get moving for just 5 minutes. I set a timer, and if after 5 minutes I'm still not feeling great, I call it quits and rest. If after 5 minutes I'm starting to feel energized and a little better, I keep going. PRO TIP: This rule is great for anytime you just don't feel like working out. Try it!

Take it down a notch. There's no shame in a lower intensity workout; in fact, sometimes it's great variety for your body. Trade that outdoor run for some steady state cardio on the treadmill or elliptical; sub a restorative yoga class for your regular HIIT. You won't lose all your hard earned results in a few days or even a few weeks. Aim to get the blood flowing and body moving, without worrying about calories burned or maxing out on weight. Need some inspiration? Check out my Bodyweight Wellness Workout below to both strengthen and lengthen.

REST. Seriously. Listen to your body. Sometimes our bodies just need rest, and if you are coming down with something, sleep can be the best medicine. Give yourself permission to take a break and know your workouts will be waiting for you when you feel better.

Wellness Workout

Do each for 10 repetitions, and then repeat.

  1. Chair Squat Stretch
  2. Walkout Pushup
  3. Reverse Lunge Stretch
  4. Plank Child's Pose
  5. Double Leg Stretch Roll

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Fit Tip with Amy Kiser Schemper, BowFlex Contributor: Overcoming Workout Burnout