Motivating to hit the gym and maintain a healthy exercise routine is tough any time of the year—especially when cold weather makes sinking into the couch all the more appealing. But you might actually find yourself more committed to a rigorous workout in hopes of fending off the cold or the flu.
While a healthy and fit body is one of the best defenses against getting sick, there’s a fine line of course. Here are a few ways you may inadvertently be sabotaging your health via your workout and how to stop it.
- Not cleaning exercise equipment: You’re at the gym—a step toward a healthier you—but did you wipe down the machine before or after you used it? Germs are definitely passed through contact and some can linger on surfaces for hours. Make sure you’re using a clean towel (not the one you wipe your hands and face with) to wipe down machines.
- Pushing yourself to hard: Exercise is a great way to warm yourself up in the cold winter, but that might also push you to push yourself harder. Don’t. Going overboard, whether on cardio, weight training, or a fitness class, can put excess pressure on your body and may make you more vulnerable to germs. Seek a reasonable workout level—pushing to the edge without jumping off head first.
- Inconsistency: On the same token as going too far, not doing enough can leave your body ripe for a virus, too. Exercise helps the body to create immune-boosting cells, and not enough physical activity can make you more susceptible to the season’s germs.
- Working out when you’re already sick: Think you can sweat out that virus? Think again! While it’s no fun laying around in bed for days on end, rest really is the best thing for a compromised body. And even though you may feel good enough to hit the gym, it’s really not the best approach. Take a short walk instead, or do some yoga poses in your home if you really feel the need to be active. But don’t go push yourself into a Barre class or out for a 5-mile run. And of course, consider your fellow gym-goers who you risk contaminating with your germy presence.
- Not drinking enough water: Dehydration doesn’t just strain your muscles and organs, it can also make you more defenseless against cold and flu germs. While your thirst may be diminished in the winter, you really need to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water so your body can effectively flush out toxins or fight the ones already giving you the aches and sneezes. If you find yourself not drinking adequate amounts of water on your own, set alarms for several times during the day to remind you to drink a glass or two of water. Another way to remember to drink water is to do it before each meal.
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