Can you train with the flu?
The effectiveness and performance of training with the flu have aroused great controversy in the scientific community; The good news: is a consensus has been reached. Current studies (1) (2) affirm that it’s not advisable to carry out muscle hypertrophy routines with mild or moderate infections. It’s better to rest for a day or two for better long-term results. Training with the flu is possible (as long as it is a mild cold), although the intensity should be below in these cases.
On average, a person gets the flu, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and other types of colds 2 or 3 times a year. The recovery process, according to statistics, is about 3 to 7 days. Coaches pressure many times, fitness enthusiasts or professional athletes to the point that it seems like a crazy idea to skip a whole week of training. Unfortunately, it is the best solution.
Is it a cold or an infection?
If you still decide to train with the flu, the first thing to determine is if it is a cold or an infection. Current studies suggest that workouts under a simple cold do not escalate to the severity of the situation. When we talk about a simple cold, it refers to virus infections where only minor discomfort in the throat and other mild symptoms are felt (1).
To determine if it is a cold or not, you must wait at least three days or be determined under a medical or clinical analysis. Typical cold symptoms are watery eyes, stuffy breathing and nose, mild joint pain, and cough. Although it is possible to train under these circumstances, you must rule out a severe infection so as not to weaken the immune system.
Being sure that it is a cold and infection is not easy, even for doctors. Symptoms in the early stage are almost indistinguishable. Something simple to see is the coloration and consistency of the cold. The presence of yellow phlegm is typical of a respiratory infection.
Is it reasonable to sweat when I have a cold?
The first thing to avoid when training with the flu is temperature changes. Sweating when you have a cold is not recommended, especially under an air conditioner. Many gyms use ventilation systems even in winter, making the situation worse.
When training with the flu, you should not overexert your body. Workouts should be light to moderate in intensity, with several pulsations no greater than 120 or 130 per minute. Believing that sweating is a way to cleanse the body is not correct. Sweating is a method that the body has to regulate temperature; it has nothing to do with eliminating microorganisms from your body.
Over-training and flu
One of the symptoms of overtraining is the flu. Both mental and physical exhaustion explains this. It causes a drop in defenses and weakens the immune system in the long term. In addition, by overtraining, the levels of the stress hormone increase. This hormone puts the body in alert mode and increases short-term decision-making capacity. However, living with high levels of stress for long periods can wreak havoc on your defenses.
High cortisol levels weaken the immune system’s ability to fight infection. But they also increase inflammation in the tissues and hinder muscle recovery processes. Rest is all about giving a signal to the body that it can relax; it is essential not to weaken the defenses.
It is a fact that the body invests a part of its energy in recovering the muscles. Getting plenty of rest and sleep is essential to ensure adequate recovery from minor infections like the flu and micro-muscle damage. In short, the dream is the primary “doctor” for an athlete.
Symptoms of overtraining
Confusing the symptoms of overtraining (persistent fatigue, changes in appetite, prolonged muscle pain) for those of a mild cold or flu is common. Errors in diagnosis can cause a complete health disaster. Thinking, “it’s just a cold, I can go to the gym just fine” when it comes to training leads not only to chronic muscle fatigue and sports injuries.
Overtraining does not help improve your physical condition or increase muscle mass. Elevated cortisol levels impede muscle growth and increase strength. Going to training tired is a direct path to taking a low blow to your immune system; the advice: avoid it.
Sport and respiratory infections are not a good combination.
Playing sports with respiratory infections is not recommended in any case. Not even in the early stages of the disease. During the first 2-3 days, the symptoms of respiratory infections can be similar to those of minor colds.
The consequences of training with the viral flu are mild, but when you have a respiratory infection, the worsening of symptoms can be a severe problem. In summary, The answer to training with respiratory diseases is a resounding no.
- Training with the flu is only allowed when you are sure you have a mild viral cold.
- Under no circumstances should you train with a respiratory infection.
- If you decide to train with the flu, in the same way, your convalescent training sessions should be short and with a pulseless of 120-130 beats per minute.
- Training, sweating, and being exposed to sudden changes in temperature can trigger serious infections the following days.
- In terms of athletic performance, resting for a few days is better than training with the flu.