Exercise, and feeling under the weather

It must be that time of year. My training partner has been off training for a week. Another couple of friends are recovering from food poisoning – and the gym is looking deserted. What’s going on?

Ok, it looks like the bugs and lurgies are back in force – meanwhile I’m 100% and training as usual. Lucky me! I must admit I take some pride in always being healthy and protected from illness. I put it down to a balance of exercise, good nutrition and supplementation – or maybe I’m just lucky, either way I never get sick these days. Although I once did (up to about 4 – 5 years ago), when I was not as well organised. So what are some things you can do to protect yourself against bugs, and how should you approach exercise and training if you do get hit with sickness?

First off, if you aren’t already on a fitness program then get on one. Anecdotal evidence has shown that people who are fit have less bouts of illness, and less accidents too (the latter probably due to better coordination and flexibility, so less strains also). Another benefit – of resistance/weight training exercise (anything where you move weight against gravity) – is less bone breaks! Resistance exercise boosts bone weight and strength. A very good reason to be including some weight training in your plan – if you happen to take a spill off the snowboard you are more likely to escape a plaster cast and an extended lay off!

Secondly, eat well. Sorry, I know you’ve heard it before, but eat your veges, and a good Multi-vitamin Antioxidant will pick up where the veges don’t quite cover it. For immunity Vitamin C is also worthy insurance. Remember Vitamin C is water soluble so it doesn’t hang around in your body for long (a matter of hours) – so it’s better to take smaller amounts and often throughout the day rather than one big hit once a day. Always keep in mind that if you are exercising you require more attention to nutrition detail than the inactive. Another way to cover yourself is by using L-Glutamine. When we exercise intensely we can lower our body’s L-Glutamine levels. “So what” you say? L-Glutamine is fuel for your immune system, if this becomes depleted through exercise (or a busy lifestyle alone can do it too) then your immunity is lowered and wide open to attack. Hospitals hook burns and other very sick patients up to L-Glutamine IV lines to help speed up their recovery and boost their immunity. So take it from the medical professionals – this one is a great tool for building a strong immune system and for faster recovery.

Finally, control stress levels. These can get a bit out of hand at times and when they do they can take their toll on us physically – another trigger for sickness. For some extra nutritional support Vitamin B is well known as the ‘stress vitamin’, more accurately it’s the ‘B’ group of vitamins. B group vitamins work well to take the edge off and help the body cope with stressful periods or fatigue, so this is another great preventative measure to insure yourself.

No plan is foolproof however, so if you do come down a bit poorly should you train through or stay in? The rule of thumb works like this:

If your symptoms are all ‘above the neck’ – like sneezing, sniffles, or a light sore throat it’s ok to continue to train on. If you have symptoms ‘below the neck’ – in your chest, upset stomach, fever, nausea, or aches and pains then it’s best to avoid exercise completely. Focus your energy on getting well instead of training so you can be back onto the plan as soon as possible. Remember good nutrition, supplementation, and avoiding too much stress may each contribute to speedy recovery and even help us avoid illness altogether – give each some consideration.

Lastly, if you are feeling off but do still want to train then lower the intensity of your training sessions until you are feeling 100%, here’s hoping that’s as soon as possible!

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