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I am not Michael Jordan?!

I will never forget Michael Jordan’s heroic performance in game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. He scored 38 points while battling the flu with a high fever. His magical performance that night left a lasting impression on me about the bodies ability to beat the flu. I thought you had to be “tough” if you had a cold or flu like MJ, especially when it came to my own workouts.

Scottie Pippen had to hold up the mighty Jordan during his amazing performance
Scottie Pippen had to hold up the mighty Jordan during his amazing performance

In Sickness and in Health, thou shall workout?!

It happens every Winter. At some point, that woozy feeling in your chest and sinuses settles in. Aghhh the chest cold, common cold, flu-bug, sniffles, etc. Call them what you want, but what should you do when they get in the way of your training? The last thing you want is for all your hard work to be set back by a little downtime, right?

I am no different. I used to try and fight it. I kept my workout intensity relatively high no matter what I was fighting: a cold or flu, above the neck line or below the neck line, fever or no fever. Bring it. I am strong like MJ!

In my college running days, I would make the symptoms worse by not taking it easy when I was feverish or I had a chest infection. No wonder, MJ and his game 5 performance were still lingering in my head…be tough…don’t wuss out is what I thought. How dumb was that?!

Like clockwork, I get an upper respiratory infection or sinus infection at some point in the Winter. My symptoms usually last several weeks due to my training intensity. This happened last week. For once, thankfully, I decided not to let it bother me. Rather, I listened to my body and my wife and took it easy.

I finally realized I was no MJ. I recovered much more quickly this time by listening to my body and saying to myself, “relax, everything will be fine, just sweat it out underneath the sheets and you will be back in no time.” Sure enough, it was only a few days to full recovery this time instead of a few weeks.

Cold? Flu? Aren’t they all the same anyways? 

So what should you do? Let’s be honest—you are not MJ anymore than I am. So why would you push yourself when you are not feeling 100%? There is no reason when you have the flu, but if it’s just a cold then you may benefit from some moderate activity.

Your hard work is not going to fall by the wayside with several down days if you are fighting a tough flu or fever. Rather, you will make your recovery even longer and possibly become even more sick if you push yourself too hard.

Full rest days are needed when an infection is deep in your chest or if you feel a fever. As a rule of thumb, if the symptoms are from the neckline on down, do not exercise at all. Stay home and rest up until you are recovered to fight another day.

If your symptoms are North of your neck line, then a little sweat may help out. Moderate exercise actually helps your sinuses recovery more quickly. Light to moderate movements that open up your nasal passages and chest cavity will help out the common cold if done properly.

Shy away from heavy aerobic and metabolic conditioning as well as high rep sets, which cause respiratory exhaustion. Concentrate on light to moderate loads on exercises like Olympic Lifting, yoga and gymnastics that actually help open up your chest cavity and nasal passages.

Just remember to always listen to your body. Let MJ’s performance influence you for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.

8 remedies to stay in excellent training health this Winter

1. Make sure to wear a hat when leaving the gym–Dr. Mom recommended!

2. Change into dry clothes before leaving the gym–take a few extra minutes to dry off and head home in a fresh shirt, pants etc — even if you only live a few minutes away.

3. Cover your face if possible–wear a scarf when outside.

4. Stay hydrated–water, water, water.

5. Snort saline solution–gross, yes but highly effective.

6. Breathe in the vapors of organic bronchial or herbal tea–open up those nasal passages–don’t forget to drink the tea too!

7. Gargle with warm salt water–yes, very gross, but works so well.

8. Get a humidifier for your bedroom–I recently bought one and it helps not only with your respiratory system this time of year, but my wife said her skin and hair feel “island refreshed” each morning.