Should You Run To The Gym If You'Re Feeling Run Down?

Posted on: 4 July 2016

You finally got into your groove of a regular fitness routine, and you love it. You find the post-workout endorphin high invigorating and you can't pass a mirror without admiring the results of your devoted efforts. This can lead to discouragement when the day comes that you feel just a touch under the weather. Everyone gets sick or run down on occasion, and you are not alone in being reluctant to break your workout routine. You may not have to. Find out when you can push forward to exercise and when you should take a time out from working out.

The Energy Slump

On some mornings, just dragging yourself out of bed can seem like a workout, especially if you have been enduring a stressful situation or suffered a lack of sleep. You may feel run down, and this lack of energy is not conducive to exercise motivation. In these situations, a workout may be just what your body craves. Endorphins help to kick your energy up a notch and kick stress to the curb. Follow these guidelines if you are walking the energy slump line:

  • As long as you only feel tired, set out to engage in a moderate level of fitness activity.
  • Work out for 15 minutes, and then assess how you feel.
  • If you feel as though your energy is starting to perk up, continue with your full workout duration.
  • If you still feel as though your get up and go has long left the building and is not coming back, cut your workout short for the day.

If you find yourself unable to complete your workout for more than a couple of days, see your primary care physician to rule out any illness that may be brewing.

The Forbidding Fever

If you take your temperature and the thermometer informs you that you are running a fever, accept that you will not be running anything else, including treadmills, tracks or jogging trails. A fever is a symptom of illness and a signal to see your physician because it means that your body is struggling to fight an infection. By exercising while you have a fever, you will force your body to reallocate energy away from fighting the infection so that it can accommodate your workout. Your immune system will take longer to win its battle with the illness, which will be counterproductive to your goal of returning to the gym sooner than later.

The Nuisance Cold

If you are suffering from a cold, symptoms that are isolated to areas above your neck may include sneezing, a sore throat, a stuffy nose or a runny nose. As long as these symptoms are not accompanied by a fever, you have no additional signs of illness elsewhere in your body and you feel that you can engage in physical activity, proceed with a moderate variation of your workout. Experts at the American College of Sports Medicine caution against carrying on with your full intensity workout, so make smart choices. For example, take a brisk walk instead of a jog. If you find that you are unable to breathe freely, call it a day and try again when all of your cold symptoms have abated.

When Symptoms Hit Below the Neck

Do not work out if you experience any symptoms that occur in areas below your neck, such as coughing, chest congestion, generalized body aches and abdominal upset or cramping. These are not symptoms of the common nuisance cold. They are signs that you are sick, and instead of pulling up your playlist of workout tunes on your smartphone, you should be calling up your doctor to schedule an appointment. The sooner you pursue a diagnosis and proper treatment, the sooner your fitness routine will be back on track.

Muscle Soreness

If you upped the ante on your workout routine by increasing the intensity of your exercise, you may experience delayed onset muscle soreness. Those sore muscles will need two to three days to heal. Continuing to work those muscles while they are recovering can ultimately result in serious injury. To stay in the game of your fitness routine during this interim, choose low intensity workouts and exercises that do not work the muscle group that is healing.

Red Flags and Doctor Communication

Never work out under the following conditions until you receive clearance to do so from your doctor:

  • If you contract the flu or exhibit flu-like symptoms
  • If you sustain a concussion or other head injury
  • If you experience respiratory difficulty
  • If you experience chest pains

You embarked on a workout routine to attain and maintain optimal health, but working out at the wrong times can derail that plan. Your physician is a vital team player in your health. Whenever you find yourself in his or her health clinic to address a potential symptom of illness, make it a point to ask whether or not you can work out while recovering and, if not, when you can expect to resume your workout routine. It is not a silly question, and your doctor will appreciate your efforts in taking proactive steps to stay healthy.