I have recently recovered from the horrible flu bug doing the rounds. And I am certainly not alone…
When you’re in a fitness routine and you’re keen to maintain your usual exercise it can be hugely demoralising when you feel that familiar tingle of the nose and the start of a head cold. I’m frequently asked by my clients whether it is good to exercise when feeling less than 100% . In truth, when you’re feeling under the weather exercise can feel like the last thing in the world you want to do. However, in some instances, light or moderate exercise can be a good thing.

When to exercise or not with the flu?

The classic rule of thumb is that if your symptoms are above the neck (ie sniffles, blocked nose, sinus pressure etc) then moderate exercise should be fine. The medical community tends to advise avoiding exercise entirely if you’re experiencing flu-like or below-the-neck symptoms, such as aching, nausea or vomiting. If you fall into the former category then it is best to confine your exercise to something more gentle – a 20 minute brisk walk, a gentle jog or a Pilates or yoga session – which can help boost your energy levels without putting stress on your immune system.

It is best to avoid endurance running or intense cycling until you are fully back to health. When you’re fighting a cold or not quite match-fit then it is also best to stay off machines in the gym – germs can easily spread from the machines and you don’t want to run the risk of passing on your germs to others.

Gym germ warfare tips

On the subject of germs, while you come to the gym to get fit and feel energised, if you’re not careful you can leave with more than you bargained for! Gym machines can be a breeding ground for bacteria that cause colds, flu and athletes foot amongst others, and this especially true during the winter when everyone’s immune systems are under strain and more people are working out while under the weather. Here are a few gym germ warfare tactics I advise:

1) Wash your hands before and after your workout
2) Wipe down machines before and after use
3) Bring your own water bottle and towel
4) Wear flip-flops in the changing room and around the pool
5) Wash your gym clothes after each use and give your gym bag a spray with a disinfectant each month
6) Wear cuts on any broken skin before you go to the gym

To strengthen the immune system

And finally, alongside making sure you get a regular supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, I would recommend taking a Vitamin D3 supplement. Known as “the sunshine vitamin” vitamin D3 is the same type made by the body via exposure to sunlight and research shows that it can really help strengthen the immune system during the winter months when sunshine is in short supply.