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Coaches Blog

Training Through Sickness: Insights and Tips

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

Have you ever wondered whether to continue training through symptoms of sickness? This can be possible for a few sessions if the symptoms are mild or linked to a non-life-threatening disease. Still, it can be better to give your body a break. Continuing to train can extend the duration of the sickness, make the symptoms worse, or even cause the illness to get worse.


Some symptoms and diseases could allow us to exercise, and others require rest. It is essential to know when exercise can bring relief or other benefits and when we must stop.


Pain

It is important to identify the source of pain:

  • Soreness can be relieved with 30-40 minutes of low-intensity aerobic exercise.

  • In post-traumatic pain, it is better to stop and look for medical clearance before resuming exercise to avoid complications.

  • Headaches: if you can identify the origin of the headache (stress, tiredness, gastrointestinal issues, or lactic acid accumulation), 30-60 min of low-intensity aerobic exercise will help to reduce the intensity of the headache and help to correct the source of the pain.

Hypertension

  • Exercise increases systemic tension, so it is essential to AVOID exercise and seek proper medic treatment for hypertension.

Infection.

  • In systemic infections, athletes must avoid exercise because after exercise, dehydration, tiredness, and an increase in body temperature can increase the symptoms of infection.

  • When the infection is localized, like with a soft tissue infection, athletes can generally continue exercising at the usual intensity unless the exact localization interferes with the exercise (bike saddle, running shoes, goggles, etc.).

  • Cold and throat infections could produce mild symptoms. Athletes can perform low aerobic intensity exercises for no longer than 30 minutes. Surprisingly, light exercise can help to reduce symptoms of mild respiratory infections.

Fever.

  • Do not exercise when you are experiencing a fever greater than 101°F. Exercise will raise the body temperature, and you will be in a dangerous situation.

  • Performing exercise with a fever below 101°F will usually make symptoms worse. So, the best recommendation is to STOP and treat hyperthermia with your health provider.

Diabetes.

Diabetic athletes must measure their glucose levels before exercising, no matter if there is a lack of symptoms.


Hypoglycemia (low glucose levels in the blood) and hyperglycemia (high glucose levels) are dangerous. Diabetic athletes must avoid performing exercise in these situations. Mild levels of hypo or hyperglycemia are easily avoided and corrected.

  • Mild symptoms of hypoglycemia are corrected by consuming fruits or a sports beverage that provides at least 15 mg of glucose. Measure the capillary glucose at least 15 min after the hypo or hyperglycemic event. If levels are corrected, and symptoms are gone, low aerobic exercise is appropriate for no longer than 30-45 minutes. During training, the usual use of fluids and glucose (food or sports beverage) should be used. Athletes must recheck their glucose levels again after exercise. Avoid high-intensity exercise around hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic incidents.

  • Type 2 Diabetic athletes frequently tolerate mild hyperglycemia and do not have symptoms. It's essential to check glucose levels before exercise. If there are no symptoms and levels are slightly above the normal level, athletes must check their hydration status. Mild hyperglycemia is often caused by dehydration. Drinking water usually corrects hyperglycemia in 15-20 min. If glucose levels are corrected, exercise can be performed as usual.

Remember to check in with your healthcare provider regularly your health provider to maintain good overall health and remain proactive.

 

Manuel Delgado Gaona is a USAT Level II and Youth & Junior Coach, FMTri Level II Certified Coach, an ACSM Exercise Physiologist, and a Physician specializing in Anatomic Pathology. His coaching philosophy is based on exercise efficiency. Coach Manuel can be reached at manuel@teammpi.com.

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