Flu season & Exercise

It is officially Flu season, the new vaccine is out and the mornings are getting cooler (thank goodness). But what does that mean for our exercise habits? Is it still safe to exercise when the signs and symptoms of the flu begin? Here is our guide on when to stop, what if any exercise is best and when to return to exercise to ensure a good recovery and getting most from your sessions.


When to stop?

Refer to our post last week on DOMS and muscle growth. When we train hard lifting weights or stressing our cardiovascular system with high intensity training our body needs larger energy requirements. We are burning more, we are stressing the body to spark the fitness and growth feedback loop. This process can last 24-48hours beyond the exercise session, even when you are sleeping. Because of this, it is not ideal to do this sort of training if you have any sort of bug or lurgy. When you are fighting infection your body is using all its energy to fight said bug off. If you go and steal that energy by exercising at a high intensity, then your body wont have the reserves to cure or fight off illness. This is why it is best to have a couple of days’ rest if you feel the onset of illness and return when you are feeling well.


What exercise is best when you are feeling a little off?

With that being said aerobic exercise, such as walking at an easy pace, distributes oxygen around the body circulating and gently flushing the system. If you want to do something, a gentle walk is generally safe and can be good for fighting off bugs. Aerobic exercise is when you’re are utilising fat stores, and all humans, including very slender ones have a huge amount of fat stores to live off, therefore we are not robbing energy stores that we are short of and taxing our body. In addition, our body isn’t working beyond the session. A great way to assess if you are utilising predominantly fat stores when you are exercising is the simple ‘talk test’. If your breath interrupts your speech and you are having to take deeper breaths you have gone too hard, slow down and ensure that you can continue talking without your breath disturbing your speech.


So the best thing to do during flu season is really listen to your body. If you feel the onset of a cold or flu, you will generally not only feel ordinary but be more breathless than usual and have a higher heart rate, so dial into these signs and take it easy for a few days. Don’t return to quickly either, make sure you have at least a day or two where you feel back to 100% before doing a hard session. Our AEPs will guide you through your sessions, and give you an indication of whether you need to rest or continue to gently continue with a light session. Exercise Physiologists are trained and have the knowledge and experience to work through various conditions, we are not just about pushing through for fitness gains, sometimes its about pulling back to gain the best results.