Balancing Act: Pilates vs. the Cold…. who should win??

On Christmas Day, The New York Times published an article “Dont Starve a Cold of Exercise” about, as you’ve probably guessed, whether or not you should exercise when you catch a cold. Should you do Pilates? Yoga? Is running ok? Will Pilates make your symptoms better, or worse?

Before we go into the findings of the article, we’d like to share our observations of the personality types & how they deal with illness and exercise based on our nearly nine years running our Pilates Studio, working with our employees and certification students:

1) The Reluctant Exerciser -For this person, any excuse will do, and even the slightest sniffle will preclude a trip to the gym.

2) The “Rambo” of Exercise -This person will have to barf up a lung before he or she takes a day off, seemingly made of superhuman material that makes him or her unaffected by pain or illness. These FREAKS are able to perform amazingly well (in fact, still better than most of us) even when not at their best.

3) The King of Denial -These are the people who don’t complain, and despite setbacks and or injury, don’t quit… even when they should. These are the folks whose high threshold for pain is actually a disservice, as they don’t realize how ill or injured they are until it’s too late and they have to take weeks,  not days off.

4) The Level-Headed, Wise One -This is who we all should aspire to be! These practical exercisers listen to their bodies: they exercise at high intensities when they feel up to it, exercise but take it easy when they are not feeling so great, and rest completely when they are really ill (have a fever or the flu) or are simply exhausted.

Which one are you?  Chances are, you know which category fits you like a glove.  You may even realize that you have jumped from category to category over the years…. or even seasonally.  We were laughing as we were writing these categories, as we’ve definitely jumped categories from time to time.  Many of us (present company included) most likely pushed the limits on exercise and health when we were younger, often with less than stellar results.  …. But we all evolve differently.

What do the doctors say? What should you do if you are only slightly under the weather? This is actually where the great debate lies. Should you exercise? Shouldn’t you? In The New York Times referenced above, it was determined that when a body has the rhinovirus (the common cold), moderate exercise is actually good… the subjects tested actually felt better. (Please click the link for all the technical data!) Although exercise did not necessarily reduce the severity of the cold, it did not make it worse. But again, the subjects who exercises all reported feeling better, and who doesn’t want to feel better?

So what do we recommend? First and foremost, we recommend that you listen to your body. Whether it be exhaustion, fatigue, feeling feverish, etc., you need to honor your body and do what it’s telling you to do. One day of non-structured exercise will neither kill you nor make you gain a pound. Most walking falls into the “moderate” category, and it’s a great way to get the juices flowing and feel like you’ve done something without taxing your body.  We highly recommend Pilates Mat Workouts at Home (! This way, you don’t feel pressured to perform every exercise, and you can take a break when you need it. We also recommend that you keep your workouts to the Level 1 or 2 range… 3 tops. No need to be a super hero when your body is not cooperating! This way, you can also keep your germs to  yourself! If you have a fever or are in that sneezy, drippy, awful phase of a cold (a walking petri dish all sorts of germs), spare us all and don’t bring them to your Pilates Studio with you! Finally, pay attention to how you feel a few hours after your workout… you should feel better, not worse!


January 22, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, Postings.

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