Curious if you should be working out when you're dealing with a bug? We spoke to endurance athlete and family physician and Dr. Cathleen London, M.D. about the advice she offers clients when they ask the same question. The rule that Dr. London sticks by is: "neck and up!"
If your symptoms are in your head, nose, or throat — and you're feeling up to it — it's fine to work out. If it's below your neck (or in your chest), Dr. London says to dial it back. This is the time when you've really got to rest. Working out with a chest cold is "asking for trouble," since it can exaggerate your pesky symptoms and prolong your bug. Dr. London is a big believer in listening to your body and giving yourself the time and space to heal, even when it's "frustrating as all hell!" You'll thank your future self, since taking it easy is the only way you'll feel better, sooner.
Dr. London also shared a few of the habits that she sees in people who manage through cold and flu season unscathed. The mainstays are plenty of rest, a healthy diet full of antioxidants, and staying hydrated in cooler temperatures, but she says that exercise is also a big factor.
Besides keeper you saner through the holidays, exercise supports your immune system because it reduces stress. While stress wreaks havoc on your mind, it can can also wreak havoc on your immune system. When the levels of the stress hormone cortisol are heightened, it leaves you immunocompromised. Working out regularly keeps your cortisol levels in check — and keeps you healthier and happier!