Should you workout when you’re sick?
If you are someone who worries about taking time off from working out when you get sick because you think you will retract your progress or gain the weight back, I am here to deconstruct your way of thinking that has been perpetuated by the diet and weight-loss culture.
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Should You Exercise When Sick?
When you are sick, taking time off for your body is necessary so that it can heal and also so that you do not spread your germs to others.
If getting no movement does not sound like an option for you, listen to this episode to learn healthy alternatives to implement when you want to want to move but shouldn’t be going to the gym.
It is your job to provide your body with the resources that it needs to heal while being kind on yourself. Taking time off does not mean you will lose what you have built, and it is important to come up with alternative stress reduction practices to help you not go crazy when your body needs some time to recuperate.
How do you satisfy your need for movement when you are feeling sick? Share your tips with us in the comments below!
On Today’s Episode
- Why bringing your sickness into a closed air environment is disrespectful (8:54)
- What to do if you are someone who is chronically sick (9:40)
- The impact of your gut health and stress levels on your immune system (9:51)
- Questioning your beliefs around taking time off from movement (18:15)
- How to stop looking at movement as a pass or fail activity (20:41)
Resources Mentioned In This Show
Ep 224: Tips for Dealing with Injury
Check this Episode Out on YouTube
Sound Meditation with Michelle Burc
“If I am at jiujitsu and heave forbid someone starts coughing on me while we’re rolling, that’s just fucking disrespectful.” (8:35)
“The general rule of thumb on this is that, if in doubt, stay home.” (9:28)
“If for some reason you cannot physically exercise or move to the capacity in which you are accustomed and you like for whatever reason, you are sick, you are injured, your schedule changes, life happens, blah blah, you need something else.” (12:45)
“If you are sick and you need to move because you feel like you are going to lose your fucking mind, try to do it in an open place where you are not going to be in a confined space and really spreading your germs that easily.” (14:46)
“We haven’t failed if we are taking the time we need to get better.” (21:19)
250: Should You Workout When You Are Sick? FULL TRANSCRIPT
This is Harder To Kill Radio episode 250 the fierce love Friday edition. Today we’re talking about the question, should you work out when you’re sick, it’s going to be a good one. Let’s go. I’m Steph Gaudreau. I help women get stronger, know their worth and take up space without restrictive dieting or exercise as punishment. I’m here to share that you can approach nutrition, fitness, and mindset from a place of nourishment so you begin to trust yourself more deeply. Let’s talk about how to embrace your body and own your power. Now with over two and a half million downloads, this is harder to kill radio.
Thank you so much for coming back to listen to another episode of harder to kill radio. I’m Steph Gaudreau, your host. Really pleased that you’re here for this episode today because it’s going to get a little spicy maybe about the question I hear so often in my community, which is should I work out when I’m sick? This pairs oftentimes with another question which is I just got injured. Should I work out? What should I do? Oh my gosh, I have no idea what’s happening. And we have other episodes that deal with the injury side of things and I can link those in the show notes, but I’ve never specifically talked about this question of should you work out when you’re sick? And I feel like we’re kind of getting into the time of year. It’s the end of October where this is going to be really relevant coming up in the next few months. So we’re going to talk about that.
I have some listener feedback that I’m going to share with you today and we’re just going to do that. It’s gonna be super casual and I’m excited. So first things first, let’s hear some listener feedback from my very good friend Julie. Hey Steph. It’s Julie. This episode about cravings. Oh my goodness. It was so timely. I really enjoyed it. I think it’s a great thing to dispel people’s judgments around cravings and really spell out that they could just be really hungry. So I can’t wait to see the response from the group and hear more of the conversation. Have a great day. Thanks so much Julie for leaving me a voice message and the show that Julie’s referring to is episode 246 so just a couple of Fridays ago, a show that I did based on an Instagram post that I did called how to know if it’s cravings or hunger and as I step more into this role of trying to bridge the worlds of nutritional therapy and intuitive eating.
This was a topic that again comes up all the time and I explored it more on that episode, so I’m really glad, Julie, that it resonated for you. I know it did for so many people and if you’d love to leave a message with a question that you have for me that you want me to answer on a fierce love Friday episode, make sure that you go to Steph gaudreau.com/message and there you can speak your message right into the computer and I can grab that and answer it on the show. I would really love to answer one of your questions and so I invite you to do that stuff. God’s [inaudible] dot com slash message second thing show is brought to you today by the core four that is my book. You can get it for 50% off through the end of October. And the way to do that is to grab my made strong program.
If you’ve been wanting extra time back in your week and you think you have to work out three hours a day in order to get stronger and just feel great in your body, you don’t. So my main strong program is a way for you to build workouts for yourself using guidance that work for you, your body, the moves that are comfortable for you right now. And it’s three times a week, 30 minutes or less. So if you want to use that extra time that you would have spent in the gym to catch up on your sleep, you’re reading, spend time with your family now through the end of October, grab made strong and you’ll get the core four which is my number one Amazon bestseller for half price and I’m going to sign it and mail it to you so you can find a link to that in the show notes or just head over to Steph grads, [inaudible] dot com and you’ll see it in the shop.
And before we jump into today’s content, today’s show is brought to you by the nutritional therapy association, the NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners like myself. I did the program in 2018 and it was one of the best things that I have ever done for myself professionally in the realm of nutrition, the NTA emphasizes whole food, properly prepared nutrient dense frameworks as the key to restoring balance in the body. They’ve just launched a brand new online program for NTPs where students take an in-depth look at things like function and dysfunction of body systems, food quality, health and wellness barriers, emotional wellbeing environment, the importance of sleep and movement and stress and you know we love all those topics here and how they affect the body. As a student, you’ll be empowered with motivational interviewing techniques, clinical and practical skills and all the most up to date knowledge to become a highly recognized and respected nutrition and wellness professionals in your community.
Registration is now open and seats are filling up quickly. You can learn more in save your seat by going to nutritional therapy.com and of course, remember to mention my name on your application. Those are our sponsors for today’s episode. I’m also filming this, which is so freaking weird. I’m taping my taping. Okay. Just, I just showed my vintage, I’m recording this podcast on my laptop on video at the as this at the same time as I’m recording it audio-wise, which is so strange, but I’m doing it. So if you want to catch the video for this episode and see what I look like right now, you can go over to YouTube and check that out. And the link for that will be in the show notes as well. I know so many people that do these really beautiful video recordings of their podcast and they look so professional and polished.
And right now my hair is in a messy bun, all lie Aaron Brown and I’m wearing the same crazy sweatshirt that I think I wore last week. So you can a peek into my, my world as it, as it will, as it was. All right. Today’s episode is all about the question, should you work out when you’re sick? Of course, I will preface this by saying I’m not a fucking doctor. Okay, so be it as it might. I’m not a medical professional. So this show is for general information purposes only. And if you’re sick, go to the doctor. Okay. All that being said, I am a strength coach. I’m a nutritional therapist. I’m somebody who spends a lot of time in gyms and over the years I have spent a lot, a lot of time in gyms and this is a question that comes up all the time stuff.
I have a cold or stuff I’m not feeling well should I work out? And I have some strong opinions on this. Again, I’m not a doctor, but from a um, a sort of general wellness point of view and also a mindset point of view. So first things first when I was coaching weight lifting, if someone came in and they were coughing and sneezing and all this stuff, or if I’m at jujitsu and heaven forbid someone coughs starts coughing on me while we’re rolling, that’s just fucking disrespectful. So that’s number one. Now look, if you want to go outside and go for a walk or be in a place that’s kind of open-air and keep it low key, great, but you’re in a closed gym environment. And then you’re going to bring your sick into the gym. And it’s disrespectful for a couple of reasons. The primary one of which is yes, you could get others sick obviously, but to, you never know you’re going to pass something too. If they are immune-compromised or they live with someone who’s immune-compromised, you’re not doing anybody any favors. So I get it. It’s hard to know, you know, how am I still contagious? Could I still pass this to other people? But my general rule of thumb on this is that if in doubt stay home or if in doubt don’t go to the gym.
So that’s one. Number two, a couple of reasons why you could keep your, if you’re somebody who keeps getting sick, you know you’re gonna be sick all winter, all winter, all winter, couple things. Number one, what is your gut health like? Because estimates vary, but anywhere between 70 and 80% of our immune system is found in our gut. And if you’re somebody who is chronically getting sick all the time, that’s something to really turn an eye to. What is my gut health like? And there are so many resources on my site. We’ve had experts on the podcast. We’ve had Dr. Michael Ruscio talking about healthy guts we’ve had last week. Kiran Krishnan bring in the nerd noise with so much stuff about the gut microbiome, the ecology of the gut. The gut is one of my favorite things to just Gammer on about anybody who will listen. It’s connected to our brain health and in our mood. It’s connected to our skin. So many things, so if you keep getting sick, number one, pay attention to what’s what’s going on with your gut. Number two. Number two, consider your stress levels.
This is really important and I get it. You can’t always remove every form of stress in your life, which is why it’s really important to create some kind of practice that you like. If you’re like, I fucking hate meditation, don’t do meditation. Find a way to release the stress to mitigate the stress that you do absorb. I know it’s not as easy always is changing your work situation or changing her lifestyle or whatever, but you need some kind of stress reduction practice that you can do on a regular basis. It could be something as simple as breathing, breathing in a very particular way, but if you want to find out more about that, you can check it out in the core four because the recharge, your energy pillar has a bunch of stuff about stress. So consider your stress levels and I get it. Some people are like, well, Steph, I deal with stress by exercising, so when I can’t exercise for whatever reason, then I feel like I’m going to lose my mind with stress.
If that’s the case, you need a backup, you need a plan B, you need a, I can also do this. It has nothing to do with physical movement and I’m not saying that that’s an inherently negative way to deal with stress or anxiety. In fact, movement is really great for anxiety, but if for some reason you cannot physically exercise or move to the capacity which with which you’re accustomed and you like for whatever reason, you’re sick, you’re injured, your schedule changes, life happens, blah, blah. You need, you need something else and this is why, again, I mentioned at the top of the show, a lot of people who struggle with injury, it’s because of usually one of two things. One, there’s an identity piece and the identity is then taken away or that piece of the identity is taken away and there’s, it’s just causes mayhem or two, there’s no, there was no familiar way for that person to deal with stress in their lives or deal with their anxiety.
So it would behoove you to start experimenting perhaps with another way that you can deal with your stress. I personally, and I’ve talked about this I think on the show before, I really like sound meditation. You can find it. I’m sure there are wonderful people on that you can purchase programs from. I just don’t happen to really know who they are. But there is, there’s one sound meditation that you’re always listened to on YouTube. I’ll link to it in the show notes. It’s by a woman named Michelle Burke and I don’t know her, I just stumbled upon this sound meditation and it’s amazing. I love it. So find whatever works for you, but consider stress. And I think that those two things, the gut health, and the stress piece may help. Obviously we have things like washing your hands and covering your mouth when you cough and all that stuff.
But my good friend, dr Brighton, who you all know has been on the show several times now. She posted on Facebook the other day about being in the airport or on an airplane and just sort of the general lack of decency, uh, with uh, covering your mouth when you’re coughing and seizing and all that stuff. So if you’re sick and you in your, you need to move cause you feel like you’re going to lose your fucking mind, try to do it in an open place where you’re maybe not going to be in a confined space and really spreading your germs that easily. So maybe that means going for a light walk. But the second piece of this that I want to talk is the mindset part because this is, I think the tougher part for people. One of the rebuttals that I get with, Hey wait until you feel better to resume your normal fitness routine. One of the rebuttals I often get is, but I’m gonna lose my gains. No, no, just stop. We’re going to nip this in the bud right now
If we take a week off or we take two weeks off, cause we’re really, really sick, we have not lost the gains. Can we stop with this bullshit? Because this attitude is not helping. It only makes you feel like you have to go back sooner than you’re ready. Maybe you’re still contagious. Maybe you’re still feeling totally run down or you’re not sure. And you do the workout and you go fucking hard. Anyway. I, there’s a lot of curse words in this episode. Oh, well, uh, you know, really hard and then the next day you feel even sicker if you ever had that happen. There’s this pervasive feeling or attitude that if we take a little bit of time off, we’re going to lose everything we’ve built and that is a scarcity fitnessy diet, culture re mindset, and it’s not helpful. Look, most of the people listening to this show, including you, are not professional athletes.
We’re not getting paid for working out. Yes. Is movement a piece of the puzzle to help you feel better in your body? Build strength. Yes. Embrace your body, own your power, the right subtitle of the, of the book, but it’s very, you know, I love this. I love the meals bore quote. The opposite of a great truth is also true for the number of people who are completely sedentary, which by the way, is there, right? If you want to be sedentary, it is your right. You have no moral obligation to work out that. All that being said, there is this, you know, for every person that is sedentary, there is another person on the opposite end of the spectrum who is completely overdoing it with exercise, living in this place of shame and fear about what will happen if they stop exercising. Overstress which by the way, yes, physical movement, especially things that are highly intense, long-distance, long duration, that stuff can, is inherently stressful on the body.
And if you’re already a really stressed out person, too much of that high potency type of training could be making you continue to be in that sort of overreaching over training sick all the time. State, it becomes this vicious, right? Where you think, Oh well I’m not getting strong. I keep getting sick, I need to try harder. And this is said with fierce love as always, this is fierce love Friday and this is not judgy because I’ve been there. I completely understand what this is like, but also I want to help you question it. So questioning the belief that if I take a week off because I’m sick or even a few days, the belief is that I will lose all my gains or the belief is often I will put on weight, I will get fat and that my friend is rooted in internalized fatphobia and weight stigma and diet culture.
That is not a benign way of looking at things that is deeply problematic and deeply harmful and it is not helping you live a life of being able to trust yourself in your body more. Doing things a little bit more intuitively, finding more peace, finding more enjoyment in movement instead of where I spent most of my sort of middle, I was going to say middle adulthood, that’s not a good term, was sort of a big chunk of my life from kind of teens through early thirties in that space of exercise as punishment make up for what I ate. Exercise as punishment, so that fear that if we stop moving because we’re sick and we’re going to allow our body to heal, your body needs the resources to heal, to get over whatever is causing the the illness, the inflammation, the sickness, whatever it is, your body, instead of putting those resources to trying to, you know you, you push it, you go out and do the hardcore workout even though you know you’re sick. Instead of devoting the resources to healing faster and kicking whatever infection or illness you’ve picked up, your body then has to divert that to muscle recovery and you’re going to take longer to get better
so this fear of like, I can’t take any days off or else I’m going to get fat is just completely unfounded. This is not rational thinking. This is all or nothing thinking. This is catastrophic thinking and you’re going to want to stay tuned for an episode I have coming out fairly soon with the grounded therapist, Rachel dash Daugherty. She’s wonderful. We talk a little bit about this all or nothing catastrophic thinking and how it gets us into so much trouble and being sick is, is one way that that manifests. So thinking clearly about, if I take a little bit of time off, the other fear that people get is if I take a little bit of time off, then I’m going to lose the momentum. I’m going to lose this. You know, I had a streak going of how long I was going to the gym and I broke the streak.
So I’ve failed. No, this is not a pass-fail week. This is not a helpful way of looking at movement. And I talked a little bit about this in a recent episode that I did about shifting how you view movement in general. So maybe go back and visit that if this particular part is resonating, but it’s, we haven’t failed before. Taking the time we need to get better. You’re not going to gain all this weight. And even if we did, so what? You know, this idea that Oh the, the trajectory can only ever be upwards and positive. And I wrote something about this in my Facebook group today, one of them about the comparison to self because there are some people who say, Oh, I only compare it to myself. I don’t compare to others. I just compared to myself and I’m always trying to get better, and I’m like, yeah, until you do, you don’t, and then what?
So just because you take a break doesn’t mean you’re never going to get back to it. That’s a fear talking. We can acknowledge that fear and say, Hey, thanks. Fear for showing up. My voice is Barb, thanks to Barb for showing up. I appreciate your trying to keep me safe or keep me alerted to this thing that’s caused me pain in the past. I don’t need you right now. And then you put it on your calendar and when you’re better, you get right back to it. I really hope that this episode has been helpful for you in some way. Again, please listen in the spirit with which it is intended. Fierce love, compassion, deep compassion for you and what you’re trying to get through. I know this stuff is not messy. It is messy. It is not clear. Cut it in. It requires us to look at and start peeling back these layers of what we once believed in, where we’re at now, and sitting in the soup and being in the sock.
And, and that’s why we’re doing it together. So if you would love to join a community that is also going through this stuff too, so you don’t feel so alone, make sure you head over to Facebook and join the core four club. We have lots of conversations there about podcast topics, so you’re welcome to join that and also remember, leave me your question, what you want me to answer live on the show at Steph gaudreau.com/message one final call to action. Hit subscribe on your podcast app. I would be so very grateful. Okay. Until next week. Be well!
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