Austin Sports Medicine: Exercising when sick, Part 1

It’s time for another Austin Sports Medicine 101 class!

Cold and flu season has arrived. Adults will catch one or two colds per year, while seasonal influenza affects up to 20 percent of people in the United States each year. During this season, people who regularly exercise (and those attempting to make their healthy New Year’s resolutions part of their ongoing routine) often don’t want to skip out on gym visits and physical fitness just because of a sniffle or a sneeze – but should they?

“As a rule of thumb for exercise and illness, I recommend using the ‘neck check’,” said Dr. Martha Pyron, owner of Medicine in Motion. “If your symptoms are all above the neck, it’s generally okay to exercise. For example, a runny nose shouldn’t hold you back, but chest congestion is reason to stay at home and get some rest.”

It’s generally acceptable to exercise when experiencing these “above the neck symptoms” include:

  • Low energy
  • Sneezing
  • Sinus pressure
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Tearing eyes
  • Minor sore throat

When facing the following “below the neck symptoms,” get plenty of rest while your immune system recovers:

  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Hacking cough
  • Chest congestion
  • Fatigue

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