TAKE IT EASY: Trying to sweat out the flu, if it's a head cold is all right but don't exercise when you're lungs are congested.
TAKE IT EASY: Trying to sweat out the flu, if it's a head cold is all right but don't exercise when you're lungs are congested. Contributed

Above the neck symptoms get the green light

OVER the course of winter many clients have had lapsed periods of absences from exercise due to cold and flu symptoms. So far I have managed to swerve the dreaded flu in my household - there has been coughing, razor blade throats, sneezing, sniffles and even loss of voice. The kids, well they continue to surf and dance through colds - unless they experience real fatigue and energy loss.

I think being sensible is the best medicine. Some physical activity when you're sick is okay, but there are definitely times when exercise can make things worse. So when is it okay to exercise and when is it best to rest?

A "neck check” is a quick way to determine the severity of your situation. Isolate your symptoms and then proceed cautiously without overdoing it.

You can exercise safely when...

It's okay to exercise if your symptoms are from the neck up...for example you have a really sore throat. If you avoid elevating your heart rate and body temperature too much, physical activity shouldn't inhibit your ability to exercise safely and it shouldn't impede your recovery.

Thumbs up - green light symptoms

  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • watery eyes
  • sore throat

It's best to rest when...

So if your symptoms include a real chesty bonds cough and muscle aches, your body is screaming at you to stop and rest. Continuing to exercise with major cold symptoms will actually send you in reverse - you will feel worse, your health will deteriorate and you will slow down your recovery.

If you exercise with major symptoms your body will focus more on energy production and muscle function instead of fighting the illness. So ease up, listen to your body, and give yourself permission to not exercise.

Thumbs down - red light symptoms

  • coughing
  • fatigue and tiredness
  • congested or tight chest
  • chills
  • nausea or upset stomach
  • muscle aches
  • diarrhoea
  • high temperature/fever

Ease back into your exercise with caution - don't go too hard too soon. See how you feel and if your body responds well increase intensity and duration gradually.

My advice to clients is always ease your way back into exercise - great that you've turned up, but take your time and continue to listen to your body.

My son's voice is almost back to normal...unfortunately.


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