Muscle Recovery and Working Out While Sick (Should You Exercise With A Cold?)

Training comes with a large variety of benefits and perhaps one of the most beneficial perks of steady training is the strengthening of your immune system. 

Some may even feel like they have absolute immunity and can never get sick and it’s a good way to feel but the reality is anyone can catch illness no matter how healthy the individual is. 

But just because you have a common cold or are feeling under the weather does not necessarily mean your training has to stop or even slow down.

In the unlikely situation, your training does need to come to a halt your muscle recovery can still continue to progress. There are some key things to keep in mind to maintain fitness and muscle recovery while experiencing illness.

Should You Be Working Out While Sick? How Will Muscles React To Your Exercise Routine?

Taking up exercise is a highly healthy thing for you but should you train while sick? Physical activity while sick is not highly recommended but if you feel like you need to do a little bit extra in order to keep your energy levels up and attempt to excel in your progress safe light workouts with less stress on the body may be an option. 

The rule of thumb is something widely known as the “neck rule” if you are experiencing symptoms of sickness only above your neck such as a runny nose mild cough or sore throat you should be okay for a light intensity workout without putting your health at risk as at most you may have a light cold and should be able to still function. 

On the other hand, if you are experiencing symptoms below the neck such as stomach or chest pain, irregular bowel movements, or trouble breathing it is best to avoid any kind of workout altogether. 

Symptoms below the neck are usually linked to something beyond a cold such as a virus the flu or any other kind of infection. Your body is under enough stress just trying to function and keep your immune system up in order to fight off any kind of infection or infections you may have.

Partaking in exercise in this state will only hinder your immune system making the once so healthy individual feel not so immune anymore

In either case, if your body temperature is too hot and you have a fever definitely DO NOT partake in any exercise. Your body is already overheating and dealing with way too much stress as it is. You do not want to put your muscles and your health as a whole in deep jeopardy by making yourself any hotter. 

No matter what’s wrong with you and if you are training or not while sick stay out of the gym. If you are partaking in light exercise to promote muscle recovery daily do so from home. 

The gym is one of the worst places to go when sick. It is full of so many different people and germs that can spread infection to your cells and everyone is touching everything.

Not only will you spread your infection and likely make others sick but you can easily get even sicker than you already are due to everyone else deciding to exercise there who may be experiencing colds the flu or many other things. This is especially easy since your immune system is in a weakened state. 

Remember if you stay at home doing nothing even while you are sick most people don’t start to experience muscle loss until the 3-week mark if not longer, and this is if you do not do everything else perfectly in order to stop the muscle loss.

What Should You Eat For Muscle Recovery While Sick?

Since there will not be a lot of exercising done while sick one should focus on their nutrition and what they are eating in order to maintain steady muscle recovery. 

But what should you eat for muscle recovery while sick? When eating while sick be sure to maintain a high-protein diet and do not drop your calories drastically in order to prevent muscle aches and dehydration. 

You may not need the excess calories now that you are barely or not at all training and may feel like you should drop them in fear of gaining fat but you still need those calories to maintain the muscle you’ve gained previously as losing muscle would be a much worse situation then gaining a bit of weight. 

That being said if you were training very vigorously and eating vigorously on training days along with it maybe keeping your calories that high would be a bit much and in this case, you should stick to eating the same amount of calories you would on a rest day or during a deload week if you utilize those. Which should be about or slightly above maintenance.

On the flip side if you were trying to lose weight before you got sick and were in a caloric deficit I would recommend at the very least eating enough calories to come out of that deficit for now. 

You may not be training seriously for the time being but trust me your body is working in overdrive in order to get you healthy again and back in the gym and into full gear no matter what kind of sickness you have.

While calories are great, not everything you eat contributes to muscle recovery and maintenance this is why no matter what the case was with your diet before sickness now that you are sick you should be getting in a large number of calories in the form of protein if you were not already.

While sick your body is in a weakened state and needs all the help you can give it in order to keep your muscles in check and stop them from unwanted muscle breakdown this is why you should get at least 1.2  times your body weight in grams of protein in order to stay immune to muscle loss.

Getting more will definitely not hurt and is actually strongly recommended for the best results.

Continuing with talking about one’s diet during sickness now solid food is not the only thing that should be looked at as your body requires an increased number of liquids during this time too in order for your body to stay hydrated.

You may not be exercising and burning a truckload of calories during this time but you are still losing a lot of liquid. When you are exercising you sweat when sick many will experience the symptoms of excessive sweating or cold sweats as well. 

Also having a fever draws moisture out from your entire body and you can lose lots of liquid nutrients through things like blowing your nose excessively or producing phlegm and or mucus. 

You may not be worried that this will affect how your muscles recover or stay in shape but you have to realize your muscles are made up of almost 80 percent water. That’s a lot of water and water you could very easily be losing while sick if you don’t go out of your way to stay hydrated.

How Much Should You Sleep While Sick For Optimal Muscle Recovery?

The final defining factor in helping your muscles recover and stay immune to muscle loss while sick along with your whole body for that matter is getting enough sleep. 

Most people do not get enough sleep to begin with. If you are training you should be getting somewhere from 8 to 11 hours or more as it is. If you are sick even if you are no longer training due to your sickness the amount of sleep you get should definitely be on the higher end of this, especially if you are critically ill.

How Do You Start Training Again After Being Sick?

Once you are fully recovered and your immune system is back in check you are finally ready to hit it hard and go back to the gym again if you train at one. But how do you start training again after being sick?

Depending on how long you have been sick and how long you haven’t been training regularly you will definitely be experiencing some weakness and drop in performance compared to before so should not go all out at first at least wait for a few days to a couple of weeks. 

When you first start training it is highly recommended to start at 70 percent of the intensity you were training at before and gradually increase it by at least 10 percent each week but depending on how you feel after the first week you can easily increase it by more until you are back to your normal training.

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