I haven’t been to the gym in over a week! Sickness really throws off a fitness routine. Friday is my cardio day, which I can do from home. I run or row. Last week, I did a 10% incline walk on the treadmill for half an hour in the morning but started to feel weak and sneezy later in the day.
By Saturday morning, I had a full blown cold with a fever. It was great fun solo parenting when I couldn’t get off the couch.
(This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.)
When I was finally able to hobble around, we went straight to the drug store for some black elderberry tablets. I took them when I was hit with the flu last Christmas. I was fine in a couple of days.
I hate the punishing “you-took-too-much-time-off” level of soreness that follows an extended absence from the gym. It leaves me hobbling around like an old lady. Like a frail old lady–not like the super cute elderly Asian grandma that wears the “#GymSelfie” tank while she lifts weights. I’m going to be her one day.
So I did research about how long to wait before heading back into the gym. And by research, I mean I asked Google. When Google had too many answers, I asked my husband and then my workout partner. The first rule of any sickness is to wait at least 24 hours after a fever breaks to go out and about. If you still have a fever, then you are still sick.
When to Start Working out after the Fever Breaks
Use your resting heart rate as an indicator
This method assumes that 1) you know what your resting heart rate is and 2) you know what your resting heart rate is while sick. I got a Fitbit Charge for Christmas and upgraded it to a Fitbit Charge HR a couple of weeks ago when they became available. Since I am a nerd, I distinctly remember wondering why my heart rate was so high when I was lying on the couch like a log for hours at a time. My heart rate on Saturday was around 111 beats per minute and though on a normal day I average 12k steps, I didn’t even hit 1,000 steps each day while ill.
According to several sources online, a person’s resting heart rate is about 10 beats per minute higher on average when they are ill. I was ranging 10-20 beats higher. Once your resting heart rate returns to normal, the “experts” say you can safely work out again.
But…I still felt like poo when my heart rate went back to normal.
The above the neck rule
If the cold is in your chest then you can’t work out but if it’s just in your head then it is okay.
My husband shared this golden rule of working out with me (and it seems to be a widely followed rule in the fitness community). By Wednesday and Thursday, the congestion and “junk” was moving lower into my chest. It was all in my head, ya’ll!
Since it was in my head, I considered going back to the gym yesterday. I told my workout partner that I hate blowing my nose in public and am still blowing my nose every few minutes. Her response was that nobody at the gym wants your germs so…
If you are still snotty, coughing, and spraying minute bodily fluid particles then stay home.
When I walked on the treadmill at home on Thursday, my runny nose got worse! It’s gotta be due to getting my blood flowing during activity. If I saw someone with a red and runny nose holding onto the rails of the stair climber with the same hands holding the tissue that they are blowing their nose into every few minutes, I might be a little put off and extra diligent with the clorox wipes when I wipe down the machine.
Besides, who wants to have to keep blowing their nose in front of a bunch of people? Or spend most of their workout running to and from the restroom to blow their nose?
I decided to ease into it at home.
- walked on the treadmill at a speed of 3 with the incline all the way up for 30 minutes
- 50 air squats (squats with no weights)
- jump roped with the kids outside
- rowed 5k
- walked on treadmill 20 minutes
- 100 air squats
Note* Barbell Squats are a big part of my normal gym workouts so air squats are a “light” workout for me now. If we rewind to four months ago, before I started weight lifting, 50 air squats would have meant that I would be wincing and tiger balming it up the next day. I would ease into a workout that is lighter for you than normal. Our bodies are all different!
I am heading back into the gym tomorrow since my cold is mostly cleared up. Once I started with the Sambucol the healing process sped up so I am a true believer in the power of black elderberry.
Read about my workout journey here.
And my love for the fitbit here!
Get a free printable healthy snack list when you sign up to my fitness newsletter here.