Maybe It's A Tumor: Calling In Sick For a Workout



How sick is sick enough to skip a workout?

We all know how sick you have to be to miss work. For me, that's when I get up and wonder, "Can I make it twelve hours on my feet today?" If I'm asking the question, the answer is generally "Don't. Even. Try. It."

I've worked out when I'm technically not feeling well, for a couple of reasons: First, because I know that working out (if, say, I've got a head cold) will make me feel better, as long as I do it gently. Second, because I hate to act like a wuss when Attila's there, lookin' all buff and fit.

So when is "sick" or "not feeling good" a sign to lie down and not get on the elliptical?

Generally speaking (ie, according to people who know more about this than I do), if your symptoms are all above your neck and you're not running a fever, you're good to have a nice, gentle, low-to-moderate intensity workout. We're talking stuffy nose stuff here, not "I'm in the depths of the worst head cold ever" symptoms. If you're running a fever, feeling lightheaded, or you have symptoms *below* the neck (like a chesty cough or what I'll delicately term "tummy issues"), Stay Home.

Having the flu--that is, body aches, fever, headache, and exhaustion--is a very good reason not to work out.

(Having the flu, in fact, is a very good reason for calling in zombie and staying put for ten days or so.)


Do not do this.


Having a stomach bug is an excellent reason for not working out, especially if your symptoms are...er...unpredictable.

Sinus infection? For Frog's sake, stay the heck home. With a galloping sinus infection, you're likely to bonk yourself in the head with a barbell or fall off the treadmill.

Head colds are a different matter. If you're over the worst of it and no longer feel like your head is stuffed with concrete, you might could do a mile on the 'mill at a nice, pleasant walk. Better, get outside and do your walking, in the sun (if there is any where you are) and away from people who could catch your bug.

Bronchitis is a good reason to stay home. So are generalized viral infections--the sort of thing my doctor calls "viral syndrome"--as both those conditions can wear you out far more than you'd think.

And, of course, if you're pregnant or nursing, you need to be extra-double-careful.

When do you skip? When do you go to the gym or out for a trot? And what do you use to wipe down the machines when you're done, so other people don't catch your plague?

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