Strep Throat and Exercise
June 12, 2010 9:51 AM   Subscribe

I've gotten strep throat and just took my first dose of antibiotics 5 minutes ago. My throat is absolutely killing me, and I had to miss my morning workout. Me and several friends are going through p90x, and after 50 days, I've only missed once (for sickness). This is my second day. I have a very difficult time finishing things like this, and I've reached an equilibrium in exercise where I want to exercise. I got knocked out of p90x last fall because I got the flu, and after missing a few days, I spiraled back into my sloth. I was going to do the Kempo workout this afternoon, but I also don't want to do something obviously stupid. Do I just need to take a few days off, or can I afford an intense workout today and then take tomorrow off (Sunday is a rest day on this routine)?
posted by scunning to Health & Fitness (21 answers total)
 
While exercising regularly improves your immune system in the long term, intense exercise actually depresses it temporarily. Don't make your system work harder, or you'll just get sicker and stay that way longer.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:59 AM on June 12, 2010


If you are contagious, don't go.

But if you aren't, and you aren't physically ill (tired, achy, etc.), go for it. You will probably find that focusing on the exercise will make the throat pain seem less intense.

Especially if you are prone to sloth, the fewest number of excuses you can give yourself to not exercise, the better.

Better, to me, would be to go, and if you start getting woozy or your performance is way blow normal, give up. Probably a good lesson in how far you can push yourself.

Also, gargling salt water tends to ease the pain of a sore throat. As do things like Chloraseptic lozenges.
posted by gjc at 10:02 AM on June 12, 2010


If you are contagious, don't go.

Having just gotten over strep throat, I vote this. My doctor said I would remain contagious for 48 hours after starting antibiotics. Given that I got this nasty sickness from someone who refused to stay home knowing they were contagious, I think the responsible thing to do is stay in bed.
posted by Adam_S at 10:06 AM on June 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Strep can cause serious problems if left untreated. You're taking antibiotics...I don't know if that completely rules out the possibility of the infection causing other problems, but if it were me, I'd play it safe and take care of myself. One thing that I've found helps me reduce my down time during a throat infection is some serious twice daily gargling with antibacterial mouthwash, in addition to taking whatever antibiotics were prescribed by the doctor.
posted by toodles at 10:08 AM on June 12, 2010


I'm not sure if you're doing the program at home or in a group, but if you're talking about a gym workout-- if you are coughing, don't go and expose people.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:11 AM on June 12, 2010


Doesn't P90X have a recovery week built into it, that has yoga-style restorative workouts? Could you skip ahead and do one of those? I second not doing a full, hardcore workout, but it might be nice to do something. Or just do a long bout of stretching. Or find an online video of a restorative yoga workout. Be kind to yourself -- you've been fighting hard to get in shape, but your body is now fighting hard to get rid of your sickness. Give it a chance to do so.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:15 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


do not be an idiot. bed. soup.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:18 AM on June 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


You're completely aware of what happens when you take a couple of days off, so while you're in bed resting, make a pact with yourself to get right back on the horse. Self-awareness is the first step to correcting a behavior you don't like and by getting right back on, you set a good precedent for the future.
posted by Hiker at 10:28 AM on June 12, 2010


If tomorrow is a rest day, make today a rest day too. By Monday you will be a little better off, less contagious and will benefit more from the exercise. Your body is trying to tell you something when you feel crappy. Listen and learn from it.
posted by Old Geezer at 10:29 AM on June 12, 2010


Sorry - I wasn't clear. I have the tapes myself and was going to do the Kempo by myself this afternoon. So it's mainly a question as to whether I am just doing something obviously stupid or marginally so in trying to exercise later today. I won't be around people for 48 hours, though.
posted by scunning at 10:30 AM on June 12, 2010


Agreeing with restless_nomad - a classic way to test the immune system is exhaustive exercise, then exposure to a pathogen. (I think partially this is because it tends to give really good infection rates, so you're not wasting all those volunteers you worked so hard to gather.) eg:


"Three weeks into the study, the athletes rode a bicycle three hours a day for three days to the point of exhaustion. “We set it up to really stress the athletes,” Nieman said. Nieman’s previous research has documented that extreme exercise, such as running a marathon, weakens a person’s immune system and increases infection rates.


Having said that, perhaps a light half-assing through the same workout at home alone, or a one or two mile jog will give you the continuity you desire to not break your good habits.

And don't forget (positive) peer pressure from your p90x group: "Guys (Gals), I'm taking the next two sessions off in order to get better. Please give me a light hassling if I'm not right back in the mix on Tuesday."
posted by BleachBypass at 10:30 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd really, really recommend you take the time off. Your body is extremely busy on a nanomechanical scale; don't fight a war on two fronts. Do some stretching and some light cardio, but seriously, allow yourself the chance to heal. Antibiotics don't do all the work for you.
posted by KathrynT at 10:37 AM on June 12, 2010


You're addicted to exercise and you don't want to relapse into sloth. Fine.

Then why do you want to work out while sick?

1) You will end up worn out, sick for longer than you need to be and end up resenting the exercise you crave.

2) Rest and recuperation are essential to any workout regimen anyway. I take a week off every six weeks from lifting weights and just take it easy. My muscles don't disappear -- in fact, I feel like I'm a little bigger (I probably just feel better and rested).

3) You could infect others at your gym. Imagine if you were a healthy worker-outer and a coughing sickbag strolled in and took up a station beside you. You'd want to hogtie them and throw them out a window.

4) Your body is not a hot-air balloon. It will not deflate if you stop pumping for a little while.
posted by teedee2000 at 10:51 AM on June 12, 2010


Part of learning how to be a regularly active person is learning how to rest when you need to rest. Because sometimes, you simply can't work out, and that does not make you a failure. You would do better to figure out how to treat your body well when it needs it and not spiral into sloth rather than pushing yourself when you are sick and possibly prolonging your illness.
posted by ch1x0r at 10:52 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Part of learning how to be a regularly active person is learning how to rest when you need to rest. Because sometimes, you simply can't work out, and that does not make you a failure. You would do better to figure out how to treat your body well when it needs it and not spiral into sloth rather than pushing yourself when you are sick and possibly prolonging your illness.

And the question here is, "is this a time to rest or not"? I vote no, if she doesn't feel sick.
posted by gjc at 11:08 AM on June 12, 2010


So it's mainly a question as to whether I am just doing something obviously stupid or marginally so in trying to exercise later today.

Much more marginal than people here are making it out to be. You need to listen to your body. You can go for a light workout (skipping rope), and you should notice whether you are feeling better or worse a few minutes into it. Getting the blood pumping and sweating a little has been helpful for me when I was sick in the past, and sometimes it wasn't.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:14 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I once had a strep throat that I didn't at first acknowledge go nasty. Even after finally getting a diagnosis and antibiotics, I ended up with intense pain throughout the treatment, got completely exhausted by just being, had difficulties breathing at night etc.. It was quite an intimidating experience which lasted far too long for comfort.
After two weeks in bed, I needed two months to recover in terms of my condition and about half a year mentally. It's been easy to chalk this down to an early midlife-crisis (was 35 then) and to early secondary symptoms of a relationship going sour, and blah, but the fact remains; it was my throat that did it.

Bottom line, what sexyrobot says, totally, and voiced in exactly that way. You just don't mess around with a strep throat. Start working out in a week earliest, better two. Slowly.
posted by Namlit at 11:24 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm also doing P90X and have a similar tendency toward sloth. The Kempo workout is pretty intense and tiring. I would skip it.

If you really want to work out and keep in the groove, perhaps just do the warm up and cool down portions only. That way you're up, you're moving, but you're not doing anything too intense or for too long.
posted by jeoc at 11:47 AM on June 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm the same with exercise in that once I give myself permission to slack (even for a valid reason) it's hard to revoke that permission. Unless you're really feeling up to Kenpo, I would do Stretch (not Yoga - too long, and too intense in my view) just to keep myself in forward motion. It's not too demanding, may actually feel good to you, and you won't feel like you're letting yourself slide. Hope you feel better soon.
posted by contrariwise at 12:52 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're worried about the psychological effects of skipping (will missing two days knock me out of the program) not the physical effects. I'm with those who suggested a light or alternate workout to avoid breaking the chain. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and don't push too hard.
posted by zanni at 2:49 PM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks zanni and everyone else! This has been a really useful exercise. I like this idea of avoiding "breaking the chain". I'll work on a light workout. Luckily, I'm wrapping up phase two of p90x, and all of next week is "Recovery" week. No weights, at least, and one day of stretching.
posted by scunning at 3:26 PM on June 12, 2010


« Older Don't drink the Kool Aid!   |   Looking for some ideas: What might be causing this... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.