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Winter workout wellness: Should I exercise with a cold? | Jenna Verhoeven

Winter workouts? Should I or shouldn’t I?

For those of you out of the loop, last week we had the Winter Solstice. Here’s my fun fact about winter, the seasons and Australia. Australia is one of the few countries in the world that changes its seasons based on calendar month, instead of lunar cycles. You may be fully aware that we change our seasons on the 1st on June (winter) September (spring), December (summer), and March (autumn); other countries however, change there seasons on the equinoxes and solstices of the year. With this titbit of information, it’s safe to say we are definitely in winter now. So comes the question – should I skip my winter workout if I’m sick?

So, why am I telling you this? Winter brings cold and shorter days, and an increase of colds and flus I see in clinic. As many of my clients are movers and shakers (athletes, weekend warriors, gym goers and yogis) I often get ask by them if it’s safe to keep training and complete the usual winter workout routine.

Today, I’d like to share with you my general guidance when it comes to exercise and illness.

Head, shoulders, knees, or toes?

So, you’re feeling unwell, and you’re not sure if you should train? Are your signs and symptoms above or below the neck? If the symptoms are limited to above the neck, you may consider a workout. And I stress and underline the word consider.

Symptoms above the neck include those you generally experience with the common cold; runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or minor sore throat. I want you to remember this though: common colds are highly contagious and affect everybody in different ways. What may be a sniffle for you, could turn into a chest infection for someone else. If you choose to workout with above the neck symptoms, consider doing so from home and lighten the intensity and duration. This is even more pertainent with COVID restrictions in place..

As above, NO below.

In general, any symptoms below the neck (or systemic, like fever), I recommend you give yourself a couple of rest days. In case you need some clarification, below the neck signs and symptoms include coughs of all shapes and sizes, muscle aches and pains, fever, fatigue, dizziness, and any gastro symptoms. If you have any of these, I highly recommend you take a rest day.

Sharing is NOT caring.

In school we were taught that sharing is caring, but when it comes to germs, sharing is NOT caring! One of the many jobs I’ve had in my life included working as a receptionist at a large Gym. Working the same shifts most days, meant I saw the regulars that would come in everyday like clockwork.

These are the folks who were obviously proud and committed of their hard work and efforts. Unfortunately, these were the folks who also believed they needed to soldier on, and that showing up when you’re sick deserved a medal. They would come in coughing, sputtering, or sneeze as I scanned them in; they’d look a little pale (or even green). Instead our normal witty banter, they just quietly slink in. On more than one occasion, these were also the folks who either fell, fainted, or gotill during their session.

Winter Workout Wellness

Folks, please be kind to your body and be kind to your fellow gym bunnies! There’s nothing grosser than having the person next to you at the gym hacking and sneezing away. If you choose to work out whilst you’re unwell, please take a moment to think about your fellow training buddies or gym sharers.

As I write this, many gyms and clubs are currently closed due to an almost nationwide lockdown due to covid. Prior to last week, when COVID regulations stipulated that folks with a cough or cold symptoms do not enter, I know full well there were folks who ‘soldier on’ and kept training. Even if your training session has been moved outside, working out in a group setting whilst unwell could expose others to your germs.

If you’re going to work out with above the neck signs and symptoms, try an online workout at home. Since COVID started, I can guarantee there are no shortages of excellent resource online.

Winter Workout Challenge

Regardless to which season calendar you follow, winter is sticking around for a wee bit longer. For the rest of winter, I challenge you to really listen to your body. Does it need a rest day? Would training today actually cause more harm then do good?

If you’re feeling a bit off, and you’re not sure if you should train here’s my final tip to help you decide. Imagine if ‘normal, healthy, well’ you was training at the gym, and sick you came along and trained next to you. Would you be grossed out, worried, or concerned about them? If yes, it’s a rest day!

If you’re finding you’re constantly getting colds and flus, and it’s affecting your training and events, it might be time to dive a bit deeper. Take control of your health by booking your Naturopathic Consult here. You may also want to read my blog on Immune boosting foods or make your own immune boosting mascerate.

I truly believe ‘it takes a villiage’. Joining the community gives you fortnightly clinic news, latest insights, and community bonuses. Signing up today, you’ll get a free copy of LIGHTSNACK: ReSTOX. 10 tried and true tips and tricks It’s not always about what you cut out of your life….


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Winter workout wellness: Should I exercise with a cold?

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