Exercise and illness

Movement and illness

If you are ill, you should definitely not exercise. Otherwise, there is a risk of heart muscle inflammation. How long should you rest, if you have a fever or take antibiotics?

You may have already experienced the effect yourself: Regular exercise strengthens the immune system for a variety of reasons. Athletes are much less affected by colds or other acute illnesses than the others. But even the most resilient athlete can still get sick, whether it’s the summer flu, a cold, or the gastrointestinal disease that has already affected everyone around you. If you get sick, an absolute workout break is very important – even if it’s just a cold and you still feel fit!

When it comes to light and medium-weight sports, continuing with a cold can be beneficial. However, intensive training is a physical challenge, as well as an additional burden on your immune system and can prevent regeneration. This means that the immune system is limited during exercise in terms of controlling pathogens. The pathogens can therefore continue to spread unhindered. The result: After training you are weaker than before! This effect is also called “open window" designated. So be sure to keep the window closed by staying in bed and resting. Otherwise, the cold can easily spread to other areas of your body!

While the open window does no real harm to a healthy athlete, it can become life-threatening in bacterial or viral infections. Too many immune cells are involved in regeneration processes and the pathogens can move freely through the bloodstream and in the worst case reach the heart. Increased cardiovascular activity through exercise accelerates this process even more and can lead to dangerous myocarditis!

As a rule of thumb, mild illnesses such as a mild cold or a runny nose can easily be used as soon as the symptoms have completely disappeared-not when you feel well, but when you no longer experience symptoms.

In case of fever or infections that require the use of antibiotics, the training break does not only extend to the acute phase. The risk of bacterial or viral infestation of the heart muscle is then further increased. Even if you are subjectively fit again and no longer notice any symptoms! In most cases, the disease lasts longer than the symptoms involved, especially if complaints were taken with laxative medication. The immune system is still in a weakened state and needs time to fully regenerate.

This is particularly true for the use of antibiotics, as they do not distinguish between harmful and beneficial bacteria and additionally weaken the body. Sport and antibiotics are not compatible. It is generally advisable to wait at least the same time that the medicine was taken, for example: If you are taking antibiotics for six days, you must wait at least another six days before exercising again. It’s best to add two more days. The body’s own defense not only takes time to recover from the infection itself, but also from the action of the antibiotic.

The same applies to fever: an increase in body temperature is an extreme burden on the immune system. When you return to normal temperature, it does not mean the disease is over, just that the worst is over. The fight against the pathogens is in full swing. Therefore, after the last fever day, you should usually pause the training for at least another week.

However, it is important to first consult your doctor and find out how long you should take a break. Only he can individually determine which period is appropriate for you.

While training can be dangerous for a sick athlete, it is actually very beneficial for a healthy athlete! Physical activity has long been considered the best prophylaxis against disease – whether chronic or acute. Intensive training stimulates the immune system, cell growth and blood circulation and helps the body to cope with the stress hormone cortisol – a not unimportant factor, because stress is one of the most common causes of illness!

For those who simply can not wait until the end of the rest period and want to do sports immediately after an antibiotic cure, it is important to know that a weakened body hardly reacts to training stimuli. Take a break with a clear conscience, then slowly and moderately increase the workload and intensity, and after a few days of acclimatization you can take off again at full speed!

Take the break to mentally prepare for your return to training. What can you do better? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Find out about the structure and functionality of your body for even more effective exercise.

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Christina Cherry
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