With an increased focus on health and fitness in the average workplace, employee wellness and executive health programs are getting more and more popular nowadays. Many such programs are beginning to shift the focus from treating health conditions in the aftermath, to more preventative steps. Preventative actions, like improving health, boosting immunity, and creating a business atmosphere that promotes good physical health – including fitness and nutrition, should be the main objectives. But, is it wise to encourage employees to exercise while sick or should employers caution against it?
The truth is that there is no one solution that is right for all situations. It’s true that exercise can help you feel better in some situations, but this is not always the case. Many of your employee wellness solutions involve educating employees about the potential risks and benefits of exercising while ill. Keep these things in mind as you do.
The Rule of Thumb for Working Out While Under the Weather
There is a general guideline or rule of thumb, or in this case neck, to follow when it comes to working out while sick. It goes like this: If you are experiencing symptoms below the neck, abstains from exercise. If you’re experiencing symptoms above the neck, feel free to participate.
The facts are that exercising can help to boost immunity, improve circulation (and the transport of key nutrients throughout the body), reduce inflammation, and release endorphins that simply make you feel better.
Even if your symptoms are above the neck you should exercise within reason and with deference to your current state of health. That means keep the intensity within reason. You might want to consider mild to moderate workouts for the duration of your symptoms. It may even reduce the duration of your symptoms to do so.
Symptoms below the neck, including nausea, chest congestion, muscle aches, or an upset stomach can be indicative of bigger problems your body may be fighting. Rest is often the best course to follow with these symptoms as it will conserve your energy so that it can be used to support your immune system and aid in your efforts to get healthy once again.
What about High Intensity Workouts?
The problem with high intensity workouts is that if you have an infection and engage in a high intensity workout, it could trigger viral myocarditis, a rare, but serious condition that is known to cause inflammation and, potentially, damage to the heart muscle. The key is to resist the urge to overindulge in workouts in search of good feelings or overall well-being, but if your symptoms are above the neck, mild to moderate exercise could help you fight off your cold faster and feel, at least a little, better while sick.
The best corporate wellness programs in the United States and Canada are committed to improving health. This means keeping your employees informed about things that impact their health. When exploring executive health and fitness options, encourage your employees to engage in routine, daily fitness exercises when well, and take appropriate fitness steps when they are under the weather.