You hear it all the time — exercising makes you healthier and less sickness come your way. But what if you take those workouts too far…can they actually be making you sick?
An article from shape.com by Lauren Mazzo says that having “delayed onset muscle soreness,” or DOMS, is that sore feeling you get the day after a serious workout. As this is a normal part of exercising, it is not normal when this terrible feeling begins to spread as actual sickness — colds, sore throats, trouble breathing, etc.
The Dangers of Rigorous Workouts
Lauren features a 2010 study from the Exercise Immunology Review in her article that proves how rigorous workout routines can actually make you sick. The study looked at 10 male cyclists who frequently have long periods of intense cycling (usually 2 hours at a time) and analyzed their health.
The researchers found that the exercise did help their immune systems overall, but it also decreased phagocytic activity (the body’s process to protect itself from “infectious and noninfectious environmental particles and to remove unwanted cells”).
So while having a long term workout routine can boost your immune system by preventing sickness and fighting off infections, super intense workout routines can over-do it and hurt your body (and overall health) in the long run.
Purvi Parikh, M.D., is an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy and Asthma Network. She believes that “Exercise in the long term is very good for you: It reduces inflammation throughout your body and makes you in much better shape from a cardiovascular standpoint, a lung standpoint, and an inflammation standpoint. But in the short term, right after intense exercise, it will put a strain on your body, and you’ll have a lot of inflammation in your muscles, your chest, and all over because it’s really strenuous work.”
So, how do we know how much is too much? Well, Purvi says not to quit all of your high-intensity workouts during cold and flu season. Instead, realize that these types of workouts are good for you, but take extra good care of yourself.
This can mean getting the right amount of sleep each night, making sure you are eating healthy (and enough), eating an extra amount of carbs during long workouts, and caring for your body afterward. Taking care of (and listening to) your body will ensure your overall success as a healthier person.