No One Wants to Exercise When Sick, but Expert Says you’ll Heal Faster

Exercise is great for the body – there’s no arguing that point. But most of us can admit that, when we’re sick, the last thing we want to do is work out. We often feel tired, achy and far too drained of energy to even consider doing a little exercise. But one expert says getting your blood pumping is not just a good way to avoid getting sick in the first place, it can actually help us heal faster.

A pulmonologist by trade, Dr. Stephen Kovacs, D. O. is the Director of Saint Vincent’s Advanced Lung Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dr. Kovacs responded to questions on the subject from Executive Personal Fitness’ certified strength and conditioning specialist, Lisa Oberacker.

Dr. Kovacs described a multitude of health benefits that come from exercise, including its ability to strengthen one’s immunity system. “Those who exercise tend to have fewer colds than those who are sedentary,” explained Kovacs. “Research has documented an increase in the immune response with both white blood cells and T cell production in people who exercise.”

He acquiesced to the fact that a congested individual has diminished energy, increasing their level of discomfort. However, he said a “low to moderate intensity” work out can be the perfect solution for those feeling under the weather.

Dr. Kovacs recommends “low to moderate intensity cardiovascular activities with utilization of deep breathing exercises in combination.” Inhaling deeply during a normal to brisk-paced walk would easily do the trick.

“This can help bolster immunity, clear mucus secretions, and improve energy levels while ill,” confirmed the pulmonologist. “It is also important to maintain proper hydration which also aids immunity.”

No High-Intensity Exercise While Sick

Kovacs issued a stern warning to those who might attempt a high-intensity workout while sick. Intense exercise can actually deplete the body’s natural immunities by causing a spike in cortisol levels. When this occurs, it becomes more difficult for the body to stave off infection and illness, often resulting in the person being sick longer, or their symptoms worsening.

Winter Colds = Fitness Failure

Exercise when Sick to Raise ImmunityThere are two key occurrences that that take place in the month of January. Firstly, it’s the time of year when many of us undertake New Year’s resolutions to get fit, exercise and eat a healthier diet. Secondly, it’s the month so many of us fall victim to a winter cold.

Sadly, the combination of the two has resulted in so many people losing sight of their goals early on. As a result, they feel like they’ve failed and end up giving up on their resolution entirely.

Don’t let yourself fall victim to the same fate! Even if you’re feeling under the weather, you can always get a little exercise in. Take a walk on the treadmill or around the block. Like Dr. Kovacs said, there’s no need – in fact it is highly discouraged – to go to the gym or do anything strenuous that will over-elevate your heart rate.

Take it easy, stay indoors if possible (especially if it’s cold outside) and do just enough exercise to raise your immune system. You can then snuggle back up under the blankets with a bowl of hot chicken noodle soup.

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