Use Goal Setting to Revitalize Your Home Workouts

Whether you’re looking to step up your spring training or revitalize a lagging New Year’s resolution, personal goal setting is incredibly beneficial. It can help bring new motivation and drive to your home workouts, similar to how a personal trainer adds an element of accountability that pushes your workouts/performance to a higher level. If you’re willing to put in a little time creating and defining your goals, you can bring this same level of energy to your treadmill, elliptical and recumbent bike workouts at home. The best goal-setting techniques will include both creative and concrete strategies that help you to visualize and believe in the end result, as well as to establish a path to lead you there.

Get Creative.  While setting goals can be a bit scary, defining big-picture changes that you’d like to see brings meaning to your daily actions. Think big and think long term, coming up with a vision that will challenge you. Ask yourself where you want to be in five years. Do you have a healthy weight in mind?  Perhaps you’ve become a regular runner and are playing in your local intramural athletics over the winter? Or maybe your driving vision has more to do with being around longer to enjoy a healthy life with your family. Whatever your vision, your goals will be more meaningful if you take the time to make them personal. Try stating your vision in the present tense, as though it’s already happened…such as, “at my annual physical, the doctor is congratulating me on my weight loss of 40 pounds,” and then working from that statement to develop your plan. The idea here is to create a vision that gives you focus and energy when sticking to your daily plan. Lululemon’s blog offers some great tools for goal setting, including a goal-setting worksheet that you can download here.

Make it Concrete:  Once you’ve put your creativity into defining a personal, long-term goal, it’s time to get concrete about the shorter-term strategies you will use to reach that goal. Try breaking your long- term goal down to a shorter-term change, such as a weight loss of 10 pounds over the next three months. Then develop a plan for reaching that goal through your daily and weekly actions. This might include packing yourself a healthy lunch four days of your week, adding in additional workouts on your home exercise equipment and/or reducing empty calories such as sugar or alcohol. You can use the SMART acronym when defining your goal…making it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. This will help you to prevent developing vague “goals,” such as “eat healthier,” without having a means of measuring your progress. Your job here is to come up with a plan for the frequency of your activities, a defined ending or check-in date and a little reality checking to make sure you won’t give up entirely the first time you skip a training session. For more help in creating a concrete, personal goal, check out this resource at Sparkpeople.

Keep Your Goal Alive:  Once you’ve defined your goal and developed a plan for reaching it, find a way to bring reminders of your efforts into your daily life. You can enlist the help of others by bringing in friends, family or even an online community to increase your accountability and motivation. Schedule regular check-ins so that you have a way of measuring your progress. Also, create reminders in areas you’re likely to see them to help keep you on track. This might mean changing the wallpaper on your laptop to include motivating pictures and words, taping a goal race time to your treadmill to help you stick to your training schedule, putting a goal weight on the pantry door or just keeping a photo of your family where you can see it, if being healthy for them is your goal.

Weigh In: What goal-setting tricks and techniques keep you motivated to stick to your workouts at home?

The Best Home Fitness Equipment for Runners

Long days, better weather and the promise of 5K’s to come,  make early spring an awesome time for running.  Depending on your running goals, the right piece of home fitness equipment can help you to fit in more quality training, avoid injury, or simply add to the enjoyment of your cross training workouts.   If you’re already a home fitness enthusiast, you may also find yourself wondering how to best combine your outdoor workouts with your treadmill, elliptical or recumbent bike.  New runners, and those contemplating a fitness equipment purchase, may also need to weigh the benefits of one piece of equipment over the other.  As a runner, choosing the right piece of fitness equipment, whether that’s a treadmill, elliptical, or recumbent bike, depends on what you wish to accomplish from your indoor training sessions.

Treadmills: For a serious runner who wants to make sure that nothing gets between you and your training time, a treadmill is probably your best bet.  While running on a treadmill is a bit easier than running outside, you can increase the difficulty by pushing your incline up slightly.  Including a treadmill in your home gym means that spring rains, summer heat, or simply a long work day won’t throw your training off track.  Treadmills also have the advantage of providing more cushioning than running outside, which can be easier on your joints.  You can use your treadmill as a back-up to your regular, outdoor workouts or schedule it into your training plan.  This might mean planning recovery runs on your treadmill to take advantage of the added cushioning and controlled environment  or challenging interval runs utilizing pre-programmed settings that get your legs moving and your heart rate out of its comfort zone.  You can also schedule days of simply walking on your treadmill, to assist your muscles in their recovery after a particularly long or difficult run outdoors. Space efficiency is another advantage of treadmills.  Many models fold up, making them easy to move out of the way, a particular advantage if your home gym space doubles as a living area.

Woman Exercising on Elliptical

Ellipticals:  An elliptical trainer can also be a terrific complement for both new and serious runners.  Elliptical trainers offer a simple, low impact movement that allows joints and muscles to recover from the stress of running, while continuing to burn serious calories and challenge the cardiovascular system.  If you’re new to running, are concerned about the impact of running, or simply want to burn as many calories as possible while minimizing the wear and tear on your joints, an elliptical trainer is a great option.  Virtually any workout that you can do on a treadmill can be adapted to an elliptical trainer.  Additionally, you have the option of strengthening the upper body at the same time, improving your running form.  Elliptical trainers can also be used in a backwards pedaling motion…a factor unique to this particular piece of equipment.  This allows you to strengthen the posterior muscles of the body that provide the power needed for other athletic endeavors (think beach volleyball or 3 on 3 basketball), while allowing the quads time to recover.

Recumbent Bike:  If you see yourself completing a few runs outside each week and would like a way to recover from your runs that will keep you active, or if you like to mix up your workouts with different types of training, a recumbent bike is a good addition to your home fitness equipment.  Recumbent bikes are also a great, no impact option for continuing to work out through or following injury.  The position of your body in this piece of equipment takes the stress of your workout off of your low back and your knees, so if these are vulnerable areas for you, mixing recumbent bike workouts into your running or walking just makes sense.  Some of these machines take up a bit of floor space and the seated position can make it harder to get your heart rate up if you don’t make a conscious effort to overcome that through increasing the resistance and speed of your workout, but if you’re looking for a convenient, no-impact workout that you can use for cross-training or recovery, the recumbent bike is a great option.

Tell us your story:  Are you using your home fitness equipment to add training options and variety to your running?  What do you use and how?

“Have to” or “Choose to” – Revitalizing your New Year’s resolutions

girl running bleachers

This year is already 25 percent gone. Your New Year’s resolutions – may have suffered a similar fate. It’s true that most people fail in achieving their stated New Year’s resolutions. In fact, 50 percent will have given up at this point. Why do health and fitness resolutions often fall by the wayside? Maybe it’s the doubt setting in, or you’ve set too lofty of a goal and have just burnt out. Whatever the reason is, changing your frame of mind can make an enormous difference and get you back on track for the last three quarters of the year.

Making Choices

The thing about changing from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy lifestyle is that it won’t always be fun. Yes, it is way more exciting to sit around with your friends eating pizza (or chocolates), drinking beer (or wine) and polishing off a dozen wings (or cookies) while watching the game or hanging out than it is to count calories, exercise and drink water. However, here is some food for thought – once you take away the mentality of “I HAVE to eat healthy, I HAVE to exercise” and replace it with, “I’m CHOOSING to make healthy food choices and CHOOSING to exercise,” you take away the concept of feeling like a victim and empower yourself to accomplish great things.

Something else to consider, trying on clothes, wearing a bathing suit or running a race might be things that aren’t “fun” now either, but by sticking to your resolutions, by following a plan that’s sustainable and having the courage to change you can make those things fun, too!

Remember, it’s all about choices. The people who “have to” lose weight on those TV shows do it begrudgingly and then typically end up gaining a bunch of it back. However, good sustainable choices will yield long-term positive results.

Choosing to Work Out

At first going to the gym may seem scary. You don’t want to be teased or ridiculed. If you’re not ready for the gym, you don’t have to go. Instead, choose to go for a walk instead of watching that TV rerun. Walk stairs in your house. Do some simple body weight exercise during commercials. Once you have gained a bit of confidence, “choose to” go to the gym. Chances are people will want to commend you for the effort you’re making to better yourself, not belittle you for it.

Choosing to Eat for You

Making healthy meals may seem like a daunting task. However, all of that sugary, salty, greasy food is addictive, people. Once you let your body have it, it craves it. Nicotine and alcohol are no different. So when you take those foods away, you might find you get cranky or irritable. That’s because you’re detoxing. You’re freeing your body of junk it doesn’t need, junk that only packs on the pounds, increases your cholesterol and blood pressure and prevents you from running around with your kids, grand kids or friends.

Start with small changes to help your body adjust in a healthy way and help you stick with it. Eat Greek yogurt for dessert instead of ice cream. Eat air-popped popcorn as a snack instead of a candy bar. Try swapping soda with sparkling water.

Let Go of Preconceived Notions

If there’s something mentally holding you back from going all out this year, figure out what it is and then reframe your thinking. If you can’t do it alone, find a workout buddy to help you. Stop telling yourself you “have to” stay away from pizza – you can have it! Choose your favorite slice and eat it with a healthy side and move on. “Choose to” make up for it with an extra workout this week. Not only will you burn off those calories, but you’ll gain strength and endurance.

Stop saying you “have to” work out. You don’t. Yet, if you “choose to” – you’ll eventually reap all of the benefits including better strength and endurance, and just looking and feeling better, to name a few. Yes, it’s hard. This is new for you. You’re not used to pushing your body. And that’s OK. The more you stick with it, the better your workouts will get. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in the remaining months.

So review your goals for this year and revamp your plan of action to achieve them. Get back on track and share your successes and failures (small or big) with friends and family who can support you. Remember, you don’t “have to” do it, “choose to” do it.

How will you renew your resolve to reach your resolutions? Share with us in the comments.

Layman’s Guide to METs

I have been asked many times over the years about METS since they are displayed on most of today’s cardio machines, including our new Elegant and Touch consoles. Simply stated, METS is a good way to measure your exercise intensity and therefore the effectiveness of your exercise. MET stands for Metabolic Equivalent Task where one MET is equal to the rate you burn calories while you are sitting. As you begin to move or to exercise, you burn more calories and that increase can be measured or represented as an increase in METS.

I like to use a laymen’s translation for METS as a Metabolic Equivalent To Sitting, or how many times more calories a person is burning during an activity compared to if they were sitting around watching TV. So if your cardio machine states that you are working at five METS, you are burning calories 5 times faster than you would if you were watching television. Exercise at 10 METS and you will burn as many calories in a 20-minute cardio session as you would in over three hours and 20 minutes of watching TV.

While the number of calories you burn obviously goes up with an increase of METS, the actual number of calories a person burns still varies based on age, weight and fitness level and this is another subject which should be addressed separately. MET values will vary with combinations of change in speed and elevation on a treadmill or speed and resistance on a bike or elliptical. You can also use METS to determine if your workout on an exercise bike today is as efficient as it was yesterday on a treadmill or elliptical machine.

TIP: Since many people may not be able to maintain 10 METS or even five METS for extended periods of time try an interval based program like Sprint 8® that will take you to or near your individual tolerance and back down to something more comfortable and then back up and down again repeatedly. This type of fitness program has been shown over and over again to be extremely effective at increasing fitness levels.

Here is a chart showing the MET value of various common activities: METs chart

 

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/METs

10 Tips to Stay Motivated with Your Home Workouts

Vision Fitness man running to TF40 treadmill

Working out from the comfort of your own home provides numerous benefits that a gym membership cannot offer. They require less travel and prep time, as well as provide a safe environment and a comfortable atmosphere where you can focus on your workout without worrying about other gym goers. Your home provides instant access to your equipment and yet it can be difficult to maintain our workouts. We’ve all heard the ‘clothes hanger’ comments with respect to that treadmill or elliptical. How can you prevent becoming a victim?

Staying on Track

With New Year’s resolutions becoming a distant memory as the first month of 2013 fades away, I’ve come up with some tips that I hope will help keep you motivated. Whether it’s dusting off the old equipment or you’re looking to purchase new equipment, here are 10 tips to assist you on your quest toward your own personal vision.

1. Make a goal and write it down. There is a strong correlation between writing down one’s goal and actually achieving it.

2. Tell someone your goal. You’ll feel more accountability if you know there are others supporting you or expecting you to follow through with your plans.

3. Schedule your routine. We schedule most everything else in our busy lives. A quick 30-minute workout should be no different and be a planned part of our day.

4. Don’t put it off. If you have time to think about working out now, then just do it. Otherwise, there are a million other things that will get in the way, and before you know it, the day is gone (good advice from an office colleague of mine).

5. Keep your workout routine simple. A 20-minute Sprint 8® workout, plus 10 minutes of strength and five to 10 minutes of stretching. Pretty simple, yet very effective. If you miss a scheduled workout, no sweat, life happens. Rather than doing nothing, though, do what you can. Ten minutes of walking or five minutes of strength is better than nothing and will still move you towards your vision.

6. Place your equipment in a room/place that you enjoy being in. What motivates you? A picturesque view out the window while on the treadmill? Upbeat music in a well-lit room with a TV? Placement of equipment often gets overlooked when it comes to what motivates a person.

7. Recognize how good you feel after you’ve worked out. Most of us know that feeling when it hits. Be conscious of that feeling and try to continually remind yourself of it.

8. Create an affirmation board. You are putting positive energy out in the universe and asking the universe for what you want. You are, as a result, changing your own attitude and your own approach to getting the things you want.

9. Have a workout partner. Whether it’s a friend or family member, having a partner may be what you need to keep you on track and hold you accountable for showing up for workouts.

10. Take some before and after pictures over a three-month span. Especially if the scale doesn’t seem to budge, or you feel like you’re not making progress, comparing the photos may just be the proof you need to see that you’ve experienced some results.

Setting Up Your Home Gym

In today’s fast-paced life, incorporating enough cardiovascular, strength and flexibility exercise to keep you fit and healthy can be a challenge. Creating a workout plan and a home workout area is an economical and convenient way to achieve your desired results. Before you start setting up a home gym, establish a budget and a workout plan. The great news is you don’t need a lot of money, or even space to set up your own personal gym at home.

Begin with the workout

Consider your own exercise inclinations. If you love the quiet serenity of yoga, then make that the focus of your workout space. If cycling is more your style, add a stationary bike. Like to walk or run? Invest in a good quality treadmill from a knowledgeable sales professional who knows not only fitness but also the level of equipment that is right for you. You do not need a full gym to make exercise a habit. In fact, many strength and cardiovascular exercises can be done with limited space on a tight budget using quality bands, dumbbells and medicine balls.

If a complete home gym is what you desire, choose your equipment carefully. Look closely at features, design and safety, and always consult a reputable fitness professional so you don’t buy unnecessary equipment. Do your research, but remember you will be using this equipment for years to come, so the pieces you choose should be easy to use and operate smoothly.  Always keep in mind that when buying fitness equipment, spending a bit more for quality is important. If you don’t like the way it feels, or you’re not comfortable you won’t use it.

Creating a workout space

Once you know how you will be exercising, it’s time to create the perfect area in your home where you will be working out. If you don’t like being in your basement, then don’t create your workout space there. Living rooms can often serve double-duty, especially if you like exercise TV or DVD’s. By adding a few storage places like cabinets or shelves, you can conceal your equipment when not in use. Just remember to leave plenty of space for the movement required by these programs. You can also incorporate cardio equipment that folds or has transport wheels for easy transportation and storage. Some examples of this include the Vision Fitness XF40, a folding elliptical, or the TF20, a folding treadmill.

That said the final consideration for your home gym is spacing. Take accurate measurements, including ceiling height, and leave plenty of room for stretching and functional movement. Create sample layouts ahead of time using graph paper so you won’t have to rearrange the space looking for the perfect fit. Incorporate the measurements of equipment you hope to include, or existing furniture in the room. Keep in mind that space saving equipment doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on quality. The S7100 Suspension Elliptical™ Trainer is a great example of high quality cardio equipment with a small footprint. Resist the urge to crowd the space. Some of the most effective workouts come from simplicity.

Remember, you can’t beat the convenience, cleanliness, or affordability of working out at home. Begin with a budget and an exercise plan, and the home workout of your dreams is within your reach. Do not delay; make this the winter you commit to get fit in the privacy and comfort of your own home.

Is Functional Training Right for You?

Functional training is a very popular term in the fitness community and with the general public these days. Although fitness professionals and enthusiasts are teaching and using the concepts, many in the mainstream population are not that familiar with the potential benefits and actual improvements these training methods could bring to their daily lives.

What is Functional Training?

Functional training has its origins in rehabilitation. Physical therapists developed exercises that mimicked what patients did at home or work in order to return them to their lives or jobs after an injury or surgery. I have come across many definitions of functional training, both in strict literal terms and loose interpretations. As you do your research, I suspect you’ll encounter the same.

Functional training has actually evolved from, and now seems to encompass, some of the terms and benefits of core training. I like the following definition of functional training: A range of total body activities that build strength, balance and coordination for general fitness, and also improves your ability to easily perform day-to-day movements or activities. 

What Are the Benefits of Functional Training?

As with most fitness programs, functional training may be performed using various levels of difficulty and intensity. Although the average person can use it as a tool to help with every day activities, elite athletes and their trainers are using it to gain a competitive edge on the field of play.

To begin to understand functional training and its benefits, we must take a look at how it differs from traditional training methods we have used in the past.

  1. Functional training engages large groups of muscles and multiple joints; not just a single muscle or small group of closely related muscles.
  2. Functional training involves unrestricted, user-defined motion against resistance, which activates the neuromuscular system in ways that increase your balance and coordination.
  3. Finally, many of the exercises involve the core muscles of the body, which when trained properly, provide the strong foundation you need to live a healthy active life, perform activities you enjoy, or compete in your favorite sport.

In functional training, it is as critical to train the specific movement as it is to train the muscles involved in the movement. The brain, which controls the muscular movement, thinks in terms of whole motions, not individual muscles. Exercises that isolate joints and muscles are training muscles, not movements, which results in less functional improvement.

For example, a “non-functional,” single-joint exercise can play a critical role in helping to strengthen a weak link (weaker muscle) that a person may have, in order to restore proper muscle balance. Doing such an exercise can allow an individual to more effectively participate in functional training activities, while also reducing the risk of injury. For strength exercises to effectively translate to other daily movements (example, getting up from a chair), several components of the training movement need to be similar to the actual performance movement. This includes coordination, types of muscle contractions, speed of movement and range of motion.

There is also the “multiple planes of motion” theory many experts adhere to. Although this subject can get complicated in a hurry, it is quite simple in its premise. As we stated above, functional training is a user-defined movement which is not restricted by a predetermined path set by a machine. Therefore, the person working out determines the angles and planes on which to perform that movement. Moving forward and backward is one plane while side to side is another. Experts feel that a person gets maximum advantage through exercises that involve multiple planes of motion.

Is Functional Training for You?

We have all seen the warnings “to consult your physician before undertaking an exercise routine,” or something similar, posted in owner’s manuals of exercise equipment purchased. That’s always sound advice, but I would also advise you to consult a fitness professional if and when you decide to try functional training. User-defined and multiple plane training can open the door to injury if performed without some basic knowledge and direction.

In final analysis, it must be remembered that functional training, when properly applied, can provide exercise variety and additional training benefits that more directly transfer to improvements in real life activities. However, in my opinion, functional training should serve as a supplement to traditional strength training, not as a replacement.

Have you had success with functional training? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

Sources

  • Functional Training For Sports, Michael Boyle, Copyright 2004
  • Wikipedia
  • www.acefitness.org

Choosing the Perfect Workout Playlist

By Bryce Faddis via eReplacementParts

All of us have our own unique workout routine. For many, this means spending your lunches at the gym, working specific muscle groups or listening to your favorite songs. Music has become a necessary workout companion for most fitness nuts. And believe it or not, there are good reasons behind this phenomenon. Scientists have discovered a direct correlation between fast-paced music and a successful workout. The science can be broken down to explain that a song’s BPM (beats per minute) is directly correlated with your heart rate and overall workout performance. Take some time to create the perfect workout playlist and improve your workouts.

Choose Your Workout

The key to putting together a perfect workout playlist lies in the type of exercise with which you intend to use it. You will want to do your best to match up your heart rate with the beat of the song. So, if you must use your favorite Janet Jackson song, make sure the BPM is appropriate for your specific workout.

I’ve listed the BPM range you’ll want to use for the most common workouts below:

Running:

  • 5k: 130-140 BPM
  • 10k: 120-130 BPM
  • Marathon: 100-130 BPM

Weight Training: 80-130 BPM

Yoga/Pilates: 60-90 BPM

Calculating BPM

There are several different ways to calculate the BPM of a song. The simplest being to just count manually. However, for less rhythm-savvy people such as myself, there are several programs available for download on your media player’s app store and on the Internet that will automate the process for you. No matter the route you choose to find BPM of songs for your playlist, the end result should be the same.

If you do find that a song seems to be out of place, it probably is. Keep track of these songs, so you can remove them from your playlist when your workout is complete.

Before you attempt to build your own specialized workout playlist, I recommend using a sample playlist that can be found for free on the Internet. Using a pre-made playlist will give you a greater understanding of how the BPM of music can affect your workout. You’ll know what to include and what to leave out based on your personal preferences.

Putting Together Your Playlist

Once you have made the decision to make your own specialized playlist, you will need to consider the order in which you place each song. Once again, this varies depending on the type of workout you would like to achieve. For the sake of simplicity, you can plan on putting the highest-tempo (BPM) songs in areas of your workout where you need a lift. This is especially important for those tough minutes near the end of your routine. These power songs will help raise your heart rate and give you the energy to push past fatigue to complete your workout.

There is no single playlist that will work for everyone. You are bound to use a lot of trial and error to find what songs work best for you in your playlist. Do not get frustrated! The hard work will pay off with a greater drive and heightened energy to complete your workouts and achieve your ultimate goals.

Reaping the Rewards

Exercising is not intended to be easy. If you’re finding that it is, you’re either doing it wrong or not pushing yourself. However, by creating a personalized workout playlist focused on BPM, you are opening the possibility of achieving a better overall workout experience. And who knows, you might actually start enjoying the hardest part of your exercise routine.

eReplamementParts.com has been selling parts and accessories for most major brands since 2003. They have established themselves as a fan-favorite for support and repair assistance in their industry. 

Exercising During Pregnancy

Exercising during pregnancy is just as important as eating right and getting good rest. Sure, we women attempt to take good care of ourselves on a regular basis, but pregnancy seems to elevate our focus on seeking out nutritious foods to help baby develop. But sometimes fitness can fall by the wayside to first trimester exhaustion or third trimester aches and pains. So how does one healthfully incorporate fitness into their daily routine once she finds she is expecting? Here are some tips to get you going on the right path.

The first question you have to consider is, were you exercising when you got pregnant or are you looking to start a program now that you are pregnant? Either scenario is fine, but different precautions and plans should be followed based on your situation.

If you were exercising before you got pregnant, it is advisable to continue. Be sure to communicate this with your physician so that together you can determine appropriate frequency, duration and intensity. There are many advantages to exercising prior to getting pregnant but, in my opinion, the number one advantage is that you know how to listen to your body. During pregnancy, you are naturally sensitive to your body’s changes. Mainly because there are so many! If you are in tune with your body already, some of these changes can be welcomed with little alarm. However, if you do not already have that built in awareness, every little change could potentially cause you to worry. The last thing you need right now is stress (save that for the sleepless nights the first few weeks).

If you were not exercising before you got pregnant but want to start now, no worries.  Your timing is just fine. The key is to take it slow. As with experienced exercisers, be sure to discuss your plans with your physician. And as with all exercise programs, start out slow and build into a routine of longer and more frequent workouts. If you are totally new to exercise, I would advise you to seek out a fitness specialist who can give advice on proper programs and techniques. The last thing you want to do is injure yourself!  There is a great deal of information out there on the subject of exercise and pregnancy.  Just keep in mind that this is written for the general public. That is why it is important to discuss your intentions with your physician and possibly a fitness specialist who can tailor your needs based on your situation.

Once the baby is born, it seems like our number one goal (aside from taking care of Junior) is losing that baby weight. Just think how much easier that can potentially be if you exercised and ate well during your pregnancy! During both of my pregnancies, I exercised all the way through. Swimming was my main focus. The one thing no one told me was how hard it was to get back into the swing of things six to eight weeks after the babies were born. I was so ready to start back, but when I actually went out to walk, run or swim – things felt different. I had stop and remember what my body had just been through. I took it slow and eased back into my workouts. I definitely could not just jump back in like I imagined and that was a little frustrating. I am so glad that I did work out during my pregnancy because if I did not and felt the way I did after each of my babies was born I probably never would have started exercising!

Jen is the mother of two children: Sarah, age 3 ½, and Connor, age 9 months.

Should I Exercise When I Have a Cold?

If you’re dedicated to your fitness routine or hit the gym on a consistent basis, coming down with a cold may be enough to derail your workouts indefinitely. But do you really need to abandon the exercise ship at the first sign of some sniffling or sinus congestion? Before you throw in the towel, consider these tips when choosing to exercise with a cold.

Find out what kind of illness you have

First, it is important that you determine whether you have a cold or the flu. A cold is considered to present symptoms above the neck only. If you experience symptoms such as fever, extreme tiredness, muscle aches and/or swollen lymph glands, you more likely have the flu and your immune system will need all the energy it can get to do its job. If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, it is recommended that you wait two to four weeks prior to performing any form of intense exercise. If you are not sure if you have the flu or a cold, consult your physician.

According to both ACE (American Council on Exercise) and ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), it is fine to perform moderate intensity exercise while suffering from a cold. Studies are cited to indicate that moderate intense exercise temporarily boosts your immune system by 50 to 300 percent. And, when not already ill, exercise reduces your chances of catching a cold. Prevention is the best medicine after all.

Exercise with caution

If you decide to take on a moderate exercise routine while dealing with a cold, be sure you stop immediately if you experience coughing, wheezing or an increase in congestion. Although it does seem to be OK to take on moderate exercise when you have a cold, there is no apparent effect on the duration or severity of the common cold. Doing some light exercise may just make you feel better psychologically in knowing that you are taking steps to minimize the setbacks being down with a cold could have on your physical fitness.

Sources

http://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/exerciseandcommoncold.pdf http://www.acefitness.org/fitfacts/fitfacts_display.aspx?itemid=2613&category=4