My boyfriend has this wacked-out theory that one needs to rest when they are sick. I cater to the other end of the spectrum, and possess the sane and rational notion that one should simply ignore their illness and go about their merry-cherry day despite any sort of potential feelings of being under the weather. Before I let you decide who is right, let me tell you this story:
I once had the flu in graduate school. The kind of flu that knocks you down while you’re standing at the sink brushing your teeth, and you crawl back to bed so sure the world is falling out from beneath your hands and knees that you barely remember to call in sick to work before you begin shaking with fever. However, on day three of this flu, I got angry at it. Who was this darn flu to get in my way, to take away fun things like hiking at Big Sur and hanging out with my rambunctious feline friend? So I insisted my BFF come over and hang out with me. I got out of bed, put on clothes, puttered around my kitchen, and then we sat down to play Scrabble…three moves in, I asked if I could take a nap, and we could resume our game at a later time.
Right. I’m guessing my boyfriend’s theory is a holds more validity than my own.
Despite knowing this to be true with a complete mirror image of a doubt, I still tend to err on the side of waving off being sick with a flick of my wrist, as if illness were a pesky moth that kept thinking my eardrums were an old sweater.
Apparently, I’m not entire wrong on this. The MayoClinic online doctors say that, “Mild to moderate physical activity is usually OK if you have a cold but no fever. Exercise may even help you feel better by temporarily relieving nasal congestion.” And if the MayoClinic is okaying something, that’s a pretty good reason to consider it yourself.
However, earlier this week, my fever was 101. Still though, I was determined to go for a run. I’ve been sick off and on for almost a month, and I have missed plenty of good running moments due to illness, fatigue, and general lethargy. So I didn’t bother with my temperature, and went out the door.
Fevered running is certainly not advisable. For starters, a fever doesn’t give you the best perception on anything – depth, reality, etc. Thus, judging where curbs are, bumps in the sidewalk, and oncoming cars can be quite a mental challenge. Plus, I kept seeing webby shadows in my peripheral vision that I mistook for the Loch Ness Monster (just my luck that my brother’s most vile fear would actually be something worth fearing). Those darn hallucinations almost merited using my pepper spray, which I was gripping as though it might help me keep my head on straight enough to get home.
Running while having chest congestion is probably not advisable because it makes your chest hurt a little. For me, though, it can loosen up lung rocks that so unkindly settle in for a long winter’s nap in the base of my chest. This might not be for everyone, though, so be careful.
My main concern about running while sick is that a fever often makes my heart flap around in its (rib) cage like a locked up finch that used to be free, even at rest. Apparently, I’m not the only person who has noticed this effect, as the internet is a hearty source of information when it comes to trying to answer questions about working out while being ill. About.com says this:
The body needs to be in good health in order to go from the catabolic state caused by the exercise to an anabolic state of recuperation and muscle growth. So if you have the flu, your body is already fighting a catabolic state caused by the Influenza virus. In this case, weight training would only add more catabolism, which in turn would negatively affect the efficacy of the immune system against the virus, causing you to get sicker. Therefore, absolutely no training if you have the flu.
So, should you work-out while you’ve got a case of the sickies? I think it depends on how you feel, but also on knowing yourself. I tend to push myself right to the edge of things, so much so that I have all but my feet leaning over a cliff. But I know this to be my personal limit. Yours might be different.
Anyone refuse to get physical when you’re ill? Anyone on my side of the fence?