Exercise carries great benefits for the body, but it’s not always a good idea. Some aches and pains can make working out a definite no-no. Knowing when to work out or when to wait can be troublesome.
You need to listen to your body and cues it gives you and decide if exercise is right at that time. Should you just do it, or call in sick to the gym? Here are some pointers.
YOU’VE GOT A FEVER
Stay home and rest. A fever says your immune system is battling an infection, and doesn’t need the stress from exercise on top of that. If you exercise anyway, be alert for overheating and dehydration, since body fluids are lost when you have a fever. You probably won’t get a great workout, since a fever increases your resting heart rate, leading to a less effective workout.
YOU’VE GOT A COLD
The cold can make you miserable, but doesn’t rule out exercise of moderate intensity. If you go to the gym when you have a cold, use hand sanitizer and wipe off any surfaces you touch to avoid contaminating your gym buddies. The bottom line: It’s understandable if you choose to take it easy, but exercising with a cold doesn’t make you sicker.
YOU’VE GOT THE FLU
Relax at home and skip the gym until you recover. The flu brings a fever, so heed the same fever rules outlined above.
YOU HAD A RECENT ASTHMA FLARE-UP
If the flare-up was due to a respiratory infection, drop exercise for a few days and see doc if symptoms persist. If doc has said exercise is safe for you and your asthma is well-controlled, working out may be o.k. But start slowly and warm up for 10 minutes. If you have exercise-induced asthma, low-to-moderate intensity, intermittent exercise or swimming may be best. If you’re working out, stop if you can’t catch your breath or feel tired and weak. Always have a treatment plan in place, that is take along your inhaler or use it before exercising.
YOU RECENTLY HAD A CONCUSSION
Even if you feel o.k., don’t even think of sports or exercise until doc says it’s safe. A concussion is traumatic injury to the brain, which needs time to heal properly. If another head injury occurs from exercise before the concussion has healed, the brain may swell, with catastrophic results.
YOUR OLD SPORTS INJURY IS BOTHERING YOU
Skip workout and see doc. This is usually a bad sign, especially if you have pain during activity. Sudden pain requires immediate medical help.
YOU FELT A SHARP PAIN THE LAST TIME YOU WORKED OUT
Don’t workout until you see doctor to rule out an injury. If you exercise anyway, an injury may be made worse. Although it’s expected to feel soreness after you work out, it is never o.k. to feel pain.
YOUR BACK HURTS
Take it easy for a few days and see if your back feels better. Pay attention to what worsens or eases the pain. If bending or twisting bothers you, avoid these movements to promote healing. If your pain continues or interferes with your daily activities see your doctor.
YOU DIDN’T SLEEP LAST NIGHT AND NOW YOU’RE TOO TIRED TO EXERCISE
Get up and get moving. A morning workout may be just what you need after a restless night to boost your energy level and get you ready for the day. But if you’re always fatigued – not jut a bit tired, but to the point of not being able to function – forget workout and see doc. Extreme or persistent fatigue can be a sign of illness.
YOUR MUSCLES ARE SORE
You can do light-intensity workouts, such as walking, instead of running. You can even skip the workout and rest, if the soreness is too severe. And if your muscles are very sore because you overdid it the last workout, be sure to make your workouts more reasonable.
Ask your doctor about a safe exercise program. Yoga, swimming, walking and other low-input and moderate-intensity exercise can be very beneficial during pregnancy. Be sure to stay hydrated, take breaks, and avoid getting overheated. Don’t do exercises to strain your back and belly. Contact sports, bicycling, horseback riding and such are off-limits, because of risks of falls and abdominal injury.
IT’S BEEN A ROUGH WEEK AND YOU’RE WIPED OUT
Exercise may help reduce your stress and boost your energy. So put on your gym clothes and start a moderate workout. After 10 or 15 minutes, most likely you’ll feel fine and want to continue.
DON’T RUSH YOUR COMEBACK
Don’t jump right back into your regular exercise after being out for an illness or injury. It takes a lot of energy to maintain muscle strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness – and little time to lose it.
Return to exercise slowly and carefully.
There’s a bit more on this topic, but I’ve probably taken up too much space already.
Drop a question through SNO if you like. See you next week.
Dr. Emanuel, based in the Commonwealth of Dominica, has been an educator of medical professionals, in training and the public, for over 20 years.