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It’s cold/flrestu season and I am writing this from home as I take my second day off work to recover from a doozie!   I’m a very active person so sitting around for 2 days eats my soul but it’s the right thing to do in this situation.  Should you always take time off when you have a cold?  Glad you asked!

First, I am not a doctor, and I do not play one on television, but my experience with my own body and working with many others has taught me several things when dealing with exercising with an illness. Here are my “rules” when dealing with a cold.

Should I workout when I’m sick? yes no maybe

Here’s my simple rule:

From the neck up, LET’S GO!

From the neck down, HECK NO!

If your illness is a simple head cold or allergy symptoms, let’s get some weights moving, take more frequent breaks, and keep the breathing and sweating less than normal. Yes, you can do cardio but it might be a little tougher since inhibited breathing will effect performance.  But, hey, if we stopped our lives every time we got a sniffle, we’d never get anything done.

If you’re experiencing symptoms from the neck down (very sore throat, lower respiratory tightness or cough, tummy issues, or body aches) I say get back in bed and rest.  Your primary fuel systems (air and food) are effected so your chances of getting benefit from exercise are low, and your chances of aggravating your cold is high.  Let your body catch up and heal.

If “neck down”, how long should I wait before working out again?

Set reasonable expectations on your recovery.  In my experience, neck down takes a week MINIMUM to recover from.  Yes, you might not have symptoms after 48-72 hours, but “symptom free” doesn’t mean full recovery.  It just means “not sick anymore”.  100% is when your condition is better than BEFORE you caught your cold. Exceptional illness requires exceptional recovery.  Once the primary symptoms are better, take another day or 2 off, then ease back in with a low intensity workout and ramp back up from there.  This is a great way to avoid a relapse and keep yourself from catching the next bug you run into.

“How much progress am I going to lose by taking time off for a cold.”

Not as much as if you don’t slow down and let your body catch up!  Often people with colds get very short-sighted, focus only on the progress they are losing, and jump back in too early.  Get well, then get more fit.  For those goal-oriented folks, make your new goal “Do EVERYTHING to get back to 100%”. Sleep more, eat colorful, vitamin and mineral dense fruits and vegetables, drink water, and REST!  Do this, and it will only take a few workouts to get back to full strength.fruits & veggies

Regardless of what I have to say YOU are the real expert here.  You’ve had colds before so listen to your body.  Check your symptoms, especially your temperature and energy level, and if you feel like exercising, then go for it.  But if you’re feeling extra sluggish, the best thing you can do to improve your physical condition is REST and get 100% better!

When we venture out towards a new goal it is helpful to have a support team.  This team, be it a special individual or your entire Facebook friends list, could be the key to your success.  Let’s explore how to build your dream team!

*A Quick Note to the Lone Wolf*

Alright tough guy/gal.  I get it.  You don’t play well with others and work best when trudging forward alone.  This doesn’t mean you still couldn’t be more awesome with someone to support you.  Be picky but pick someone.

Who to Choose for Your TeamI want you

When I’m building a team, I surround myself with those who will help me accomplish my goal.  I make sure my team has…

  • The cheerleader – You can’t do wrong in this person’s eyes. They’ve had your back forever and are thrilled to help you in anyway.  Their enthusiasm may be a little over the top sometimes but when things get tough they’re like a ray of sunshine.  Who is this person in your life?
  • The truth-teller – Oh man, we love to dislike this person. Fearless and unfiltered, this person will set you straight no matter what, and, though it may sting, it’s exactly what you need to hear.  Who is this person for you?
  • The expert – You need info and this person has both the knowledge and experience you need to succeed. They will save you time and give you confidence you are doing the right things to get the results you want.  Do you know someone who has the information you need?  Good news: if you don’t have this person you can probably hire one!
  • The partner – This person is with you on the journey! You’re doing this together and are stronger because the other is there. You don’t need to have a partner but there’s nothing better than a good one. This person can also be your cheerleader and/or truth-teller!  Do you have a partner?

Equip Your Team!

Your team is set!  Each player is honored to be involved and eager to help…but, they might not know how you want help.  So, tell them how they can best help you!  Be specific.  For example…

“Thank you for agreeing to help me.  The best way you can help me is by_________________.”

And then fill in the blank.

won't skip the gym 2

  • Asking me how my nutrition is going.
  • Forcing me to go to my workout even when I push back against you.
  • Helping me prepare meals
  • Knocking the donut out of my hand if I pick one up.
  • Watching the kids while I go for a run.
  • Telling me I look great even if I really don’t.

Now you’re all set!  Well, one more thing…



*Critical Notes for Spouses*

You know how you and your spouse work together.  It’s a unique arrangement and each is different.  Please consider these notes before moving forward.

If you choose a spouse to be on your team…wake up

  1. Make sure they agree to participate.
  2. Don’t be mad if they don’t for the right reasons.
  3. Don’t destroy them when they help EXACTLY HOW YOU ASKED THEM TO!!!
  4. We clear about this?

I know every success I’ve experienced has been a team effort.  There is nothing like having support when things are tough and friends to celebrate with at the finish line.  Build a team, hang on tight to them when things get tough, and enjoy fellowship as it was meant to be.

Cheering people