It’s officially cold and flu season in the Northwest, so let’s be honest with ourselves. Running (or doing exercise of any kind) can feel like a total chore when you’re sick. As if exercising wasn’t hard enough when you felt completely fine, having all kinds of gross gunky stuff coming out of your nose and being coughed up out of your lungs makes it about a thousand times worse. On top of that, feeling brain fog can absolutely destroy one’s motivation and energy levels.
Being sick often leads to even the most avid athletes and runners losing focus and slacking off from their routines. Unfortunately, turning into a human lump on a sofa doesn’t help anyone get more gains. My philosophy when I’m sick is pretty simple: Something is always better than nothing.
Even when I feel like utter crud, I try to (at the very least) do a little at-home workout. I find that once I get my butt off the couch and start moving, it gets easier, and I generally feel a fair amount better after I’m done exercising a bit. Movement can help clear out one’s sinuses, which, at least in my case, can make a huge difference in how I feel overall.
Something as simple as getting up to do a few jumping jacks or push-ups makes all the difference in keeping out of an exercise slump. One time when I got an awful sinus infection, I ended up taking three weeks off from working out. Three. Weeks. I lost any endurance that I had worked so hard to build up, and my muscles did not enjoy being used again after so much time off. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time off from exercise during a bout of sinus infection; but I took it too far and let laziness get the better of me. Don’t let that happen to you!
There are, of course, exceptions to working out during illnesses. If you are vomiting or feeling light-headed or dizzy, you should just listen to your body and take a break. Drink a lot of fluids, try to eat some soup; but working out certainly won’t make you feel better if you’ve got no gas in the tank.
It’s not always a bad thing to be a couch potato; sometimes that is exactly what the body needs in order to fully heal. Just don’t let a small break from your regular lifestyle turn into a big, permanent one.