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Doctors orders: When not to exercise

Nothing can stop a good workout enthusiast from going to the gym. No inclement weather, busy schedule or even the latest episode of Criminal Minds on TV can deter you from training your body or losing an extra pound or two. Going to the gym gives certain people a rush of healthily addictive adrenaline. And far and away, this is a good thing.

But the question of today’s fitness article is: When do you put down your gym bag, take off your training shoes, and sit down to lethargically watch Criminal Minds? When should you stop yourself from going to the gym regardless of how much you need your workout routine?

The obvious answer to such a question is: When you are sick! But how ‘sick’ should you be to stop yourself from working out, and is there a certain degree of ‘being sick’ that permits you to still go to the gym?

Having a fever, for example, no matter how remotely high it is, is a dangerous condition to exercise in. The natural increase of body temperature that occurs during exercise can cause the fever to develop into a heatstroke. Fevers indicate that your body is fighting some sort of infection, so you need to focus all of your energy on rest in order to win the battle over malaise.

One of the consequences of exercise is dehydration. If you are experiencing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, you should refrain from working out. These symptoms are known to cause the dehydration on their own, and adding salt to the wound by working out can be harmful to your body in more ways than you think. That, of course, is if you manage to get yourself out of the bathroom and into the gym.

Most of the serious illnesses–such as cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and more–can either be prevented or improved by working out, but that doesn’t mean that you should bag your gym clothes and indulge in an advance cardio class. Contact your doctor to ask for the right exercise techniques for your condition. Each and every detail in your working-out routine should be adjusted according to your health status, so request specific information.

The next question that might jump to your mind then is: When is it okay to workout regardless of health status? If you are feeling under the weather, but don’t have any of the symptoms mentioned above, should you be in the gym? Of course, that’s solely your decision, but be aware:

– If you have a simple cold, but you don’t have a fever, exercise is totally okay.

– If your body is aching due to previous heavy exercise, you can actually pull off another heavy session soon after. The Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (known as DOMS) typically occurs after a new or intense workout. It’s funny that in the medical field, this type of soreness is considered injury, but the only way to heal it is, somewhat ironically, working out more.

– If you are generally stressed over the usual suspects–busy schedule, too much to do, etc.–exercise may be the last thing you want to think about. Experts, however, agree that exercising is positive stress therapy. The naturally-produced pain killers in your body, known as endorphins, are released from your brain into your bloodstream as a result of exercise. Endorphins target both the mental and physical status of your body to make you feel better about yourself and to ease the pain of working out.

If it seems confusing for you, just use your judgment and follow this simple rule: If you have symptoms from the neck up–like sneezing, stuffy nose, etc.–you can probably pull off a light workout, which might actually help in releasing some of these symptoms. If your symptoms, however, are coming from below the neck–coughing, general fever or nausea–then it’s a wise decision to skip your workout and rest.

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