Workout Tips During Cold and Flu Season, Part 1

01/22/2013

The New Year is here and with it comes aspirations of getting fit no matter what.  In some cases, this may mean working out when you don't feel like it – literally!  If you're under the weather does it make sense to workout and if so, how hard do you push it?  In my first of two posts I will discuss ways to workout when you're under the weather and when to just say no.

Go to any gym and you're bound to hear someone coughing across the room.  In some cases you may see someone sneeze in his hand and then grab some free weights and start pumping (happens more often than you think).  The bottom line is to take these sneezes and coughs seriously - it doesn’t take much to spread a cold or flu.  However, if you’re not experiencing any sick symptoms you still need to be careful amongst sick gym-goers.  Here are some must-do tips to practice at the gym during flu season.

Scenario 1: Symptom free, you're not sick

Tip #1: Wash your hands - often.  This tip is the most helpful, effective yet overlooked step that can prevent you from getting sick.  In fact, studies show that hand-washing works better than hand sanitizer to remove those germs associated with illness in vulnerable areas like schools, hospitals, and you name it: gyms.

Wash your hands before and after your workout.  Don't put it off until you get home -- clean those hands right away.  Don't assume that you're a hand-washing expert though.  It's always good to get a refresher course from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tip #2: Wear gloves.  Weightlifting gloves are not just for the Muscle & Fitness wannabes.  I recommend you make gloves a staple in you gym bag.  Weightlifting gloves serve the obvious function of protecting your hands from those mean callouses but they also provide a barrier when you use gym equipment.  Granted, your fingers are still exposed so you'll still need to wash your hands after a workout anyway.

That said, the more barriers you use, the better.  Be sure to wash your gloves regularly, 2-4 times per month is ideal.

Tip #3: Maintain a clean workout surface.  Never assume that equipment is clean.  Err on the side of caution and use a towel to prevent any bodily fluid exchange (a little personal, but you get my point).  If the gym has a sanitizer you can use to wipe off equipment, by all means use it.  Trust me, you're not an elitist if you do, you’re just doing the right thing.

In my next post, I’ll discuss workout options when you have the cold or flu and what you can do to help a speedy recovery.  Until then, stay healthy and keep moving.


As a 4-time mom, I understand the many demands and challenges that come with raising a family and trying to get or stay fit. I've developed programs for pre-conception, pregnancy and post-pregnancy as well as preparing for and recovering from challenges like medical procedures.
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