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Old 02-20-2013, 07:18 AM   #1
Wyndru
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Default Working out while sick (Lifting)

I've had a a sore throat and am running a fever, but I really don't want to stall on my lifting progress right now. I just got more consistent with my lifts and don't want to blow it now.

Are there any concerns with working out while you are sick? My doc said it's a common cold, and I refused antibiotics, so all I have been taking is the occasional Advil when my throat hurts a lot. I feel a little tired, and my muscles ache slightly, but I think I would be fine to lift.

Should I just skip it for a few days, or maybe just have a couple of light lifting days? As long as my form is correct during warmup and I feel comfortable adding weight, is there any risk of injury that I'm overlooking?
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:37 AM   #2
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The only two things to think about are your fatigue level and your immune system. Your immune system's response to working out will be to shut down (as your body will decide it has more important things to do). The result is that you'll feel a lot better (your fever may even go down), but during this time the virus is winning the battle, and it'll make it take longer for you to recover.

I more or less had this experience on vacation last summer. I got sick while backpacking. I'd wake up miserable, but once I started hiking, I'd feel a lot better and the inflammation would go down, but then it'd get worse again when I stopped at the end of the day.

Edit: The other thing to think about is that there's a good chance you'll get all the other weightlifters at your gym sick.
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:40 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by crashtestdummy View Post
The only two things to think about are your fatigue level and your immune system. Your immune system's response to working out will be to shut down (as your body will decide it has more important things to do). The result is that you'll feel a lot better (your fever may even go down), but during this time the virus is winning the battle, and it'll make it take longer for you to recover.

I more or less had this experience on vacation last summer. I got sick while backpacking. I'd wake up miserable, but once I started hiking, I'd feel a lot better and the inflammation would go down, but then it'd get worse again when I stopped at the end of the day.

Edit: The other thing to think about is that there's a good chance you'll get all the other weightlifters at your gym sick.
I have a home gym, so I'll be working out alone (it's just basic stronglifts exercises). I didn't even think about that 1st point though, thanks for mentioning that.
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:58 AM   #4
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Actually, moderate exercise will improve your immune system response for a few hours. Intense exercise will do the opposite for up to 3 days. The problem is that what is moderate when you're well isn't moderate to your body when it's sick, because the body is already under a lot of stress fighting the illness. It just depends on how sick you are, how fit you are, etc.

Personally, if I'm running a fever, my workouts will just have to wait. If I've just got some sinus crud, I may exercise depending on how I feel. I view it sort of like an injury...the important things are to recover and not make it worse.

In my opinion, the best thing for you to do is eat well and rest til you feel a little better. Consistent exercising over the long term will do a hell of a lot more for you than worrying about the next few days.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:19 AM   #5
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As some may mention, light to moderate exercise can help you while you're sick, but that's only really applicable to cardio. You should not do a taxing strength workout while you're sick, as tedorai mentioned. You can do a light workout with sets of 10-12 reps where you're not that fatigued at the end. The problem with lifting is that it puts a large load on your muscles, initiating an immune response to begin recovery. The immune system can only respond so much and it's either gonna go to muscle recovery or knowing down your illness. Just take a few days off and come back into it. If you really wanna stay active, go for a walk or a light jog - that can help benefit recovery by elevating your body temperature, improving expulsion of junk from your lungs (if you have it), and a few other reasons.
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Old 02-20-2013, 12:42 PM   #6
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I guess I might just do a short elliptical session for today then.

Thanks for all of the info!
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Old 02-20-2013, 01:13 PM   #7
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Some anectodal stuff.

I recently lifted weights during the end of a flu or maybe a bad cold. I felt like crap going in, felt like crap warming up. I was still able to hit all my target lifts except I had to take a set off each because my lungs couldn't handle the volume.

Next day, I felt more sore than usual but other than that I felt fine.
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Old 02-22-2013, 01:27 PM   #8
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I take cold medicine or whatever I need, but I absolutely lift when sick. I believe it helps the body to fight sickness by stimulating many different systems. I did it about 3 weeks ago, I was sick as a dog, but I trained and trained well to boot.
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Old 02-22-2013, 02:07 PM   #9
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Interesting you posted this as I dealt with this just a few weeks ago. You know when you catch a bug but you don't fully sick yet? It's that period when you are in this middleground where you can function okay but you have that feeling where it's like it could either way, you get full blown sick or your immune system successfully fights it off.

Well during that period I decided I was well enough to do my scheduled leg workout. I didn't hold back and drop the weights, reps, or sets. I did full exertion squats, deads, etc. Well midway into the workout I just suddenly got the chills, I could tell the tide shifted right there. I got fully sick after that. If I'm in the same position again in the future, I wouldn't skip the workout but I'd do a much lighter workout that doesn't tax my body as much.
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Old 02-22-2013, 02:43 PM   #10
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A little update since the thread is still active...I did some light cardio the first day, but since then I have been really sick. I went to work all week since its vacation for the teachers and students, so I'm basically the only one in, no worries of getting others sick, but wow did I get sick this time. I hate feeling like this, I'm basically walking around delirious with snot pouring out of my nose and constant coughing. I even woke up this morning with yellow puss coming from my right bloodshot eye, so I wonder if I'll be blessed with pink eye on top of it. Good times.

Maybe I should have taken the antibiotics when the doctor offered. I just hate being reliant on medicine. Every year around this time I always get a sore throat that turns into a 2 week sickness and I always end up on antibiotics eventually. I was hoping I could tough this one out.

So I took a break from lifting for now, since I'm getting chills and muscle pains. I hope I don't stall for too long. I'm dreading the going back to squatting again, I'm worried I'll have some muscle degradation and end up with sore legs for another week after I start lifting again. So much for my progress.

Last edited by Wyndru; 02-22-2013 at 02:55 PM.
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Old 02-22-2013, 02:57 PM   #11
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Don't worry too much unless you're body building for a competition. So you lose some strength, it's not the end of the world. It doesn't really take long get back to your normal routine. I went on a week vacation back in Jan where I had about 10-12 day break from lifting and I was back to normal on my 2nd lifting day. The only thing that sucks for me after a slight hiatus is that I need a longer rest period after my 1st lift coming back due to increased soreness.

And technically its often recommended to take a week off every 4-6 weeks anyway so just use this week as the one.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:21 PM   #12
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And technically its often recommended to take a week off every 4-6 weeks anyway so just use this week as the one.
Or at least deload to like 1/2 of normal intensity. Don't have to take it completely off.
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Old 02-23-2013, 09:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyndru View Post
I've had a a sore throat and am running a fever, but I really don't want to stall on my lifting progress right now. I just got more consistent with my lifts and don't want to blow it now.

Are there any concerns with working out while you are sick? My doc said it's a common cold, and I refused antibiotics, so all I have been taking is the occasional Advil when my throat hurts a lot. I feel a little tired, and my muscles ache slightly, but I think I would be fine to lift.

Should I just skip it for a few days, or maybe just have a couple of light lifting days? As long as my form is correct during warmup and I feel comfortable adding weight, is there any risk of injury that I'm overlooking?
I doubt you'll hamper your progress much if you take a few days off...a lot of lifters take a week+ every few months. Consider it muscle recovery.
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Old 02-25-2013, 08:41 AM   #14
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Man, that stuff is going around. My daughter got it first earlier this month, same symptoms as you described, then my wife... and I thought I just might make it, because they were pretty much over it , but wife was on the last few days of treatment. But lo and behold, I came down with it this weekend, straight down to a nice pink crusty eye this morning. No fever for me, thankfully.
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:51 PM   #15
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Man, that stuff is going around. My daughter got it first earlier this month, same symptoms as you described, then my wife... and I thought I just might make it, because they were pretty much over it , but wife was on the last few days of treatment. But lo and behold, I came down with it this weekend, straight down to a nice pink crusty eye this morning. No fever for me, thankfully.
That sucks, I hope it's a short one for you.

I'm still a little sick, now my head is throbbing and my ears have been ringing for 3 days. Other than Advil I've just added sudafed to relieve the sinus pressure a bit. My sore throat is still here but not near as bad as it was last week. I think I'm getting better though. I'll probably get back to lifting tomorrow.
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