Is My Workout Making Me Sick?

14 Mar

I’ve always been hesitant to strength train because cardio is my passion. But lately, I’ve been strength training two to three times per week. The more I do it, the more I love it. I can feel my body getting stronger; I can see my body getting stronger. I like the results.

I don’t, however, like the way I feel the day after.

I have flu-like symptoms. I’m chilled, my throat hurts, my head hurts, and I’m exhausted. I’m achy. My muscles are sore from working out, of course, but I also feel like they are fighting off some kind of virus — the same way I feel when I’m getting sick.

I have a weakened immune system because of my allergies, but I never knew that a tough workout could trigger an illness . Maybe I’m not refueling properly afterwards? Maybe I’m not getting enough sleep? Okay, I have definitely been lacking in the sleep department this week. I don’t usually feel this way after I finish my cardio workouts, though, so what is it about weight training that’s making me feel this way?

I turned to Twitter for help, of course (because where else would I go?…).

Glutamine supplementation was recommended. From what I understand, glutamine is an amino acid that supports the production of muscles and helps to support the immune system. Sounds good, right? Well…apparently it’s a topic that’s debated often. Glutamine is found in many foods- chicken, beef, fish, eggs, milk, cabbage and dairy products, just to name a few. It’s a debated topic because many people think that glutamine should be consumed naturally, rather than in a pill or powder form.

Maybe that’s not the only solution to this little problem though? Have any of you ever experienced this? I need advice.

Or maybe I just need a nap.



14 Responses to “Is My Workout Making Me Sick?”

  1. Caroline March 14, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    I’ve never experienced that before (although certainly get the achy feeling the day after), so I don’t have any advice to give. I do hope that you’re able to figure it out quickly!

  2. Julia March 14, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    It sounds more like a cold, and is probably just coincidental. How long has it been going on? Maybe you just need some rest. Hope you feel better!

  3. Bellaspire (@Bellaspire) March 14, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    This is a helpful video that’s a little more elaborate than my tweet :). When I was training for my show I was doing some pretty intense workouts and would use glutamine to help with recovery. I don’t use it on a day to day basis anymore… only if I have an extra brutal workout. Like Julia said, perhaps it’s a cold or maybe allergies. Either way, I hope it goes away! 🙂

    • Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy March 15, 2012 at 9:09 am #

      Thank you!! I know some of it is due to allergies, and I’ve been behind on my allergy shots, so I’m hoping that’s all it is!

  4. Dana March 14, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    I would say this is a great example of a third variable problem. Yes, there is a correlation between your strength training and feeling sick. But correlation is not the same as causation. There is likely a third (and probably even fourth and fifth) variable in this equation that is making you sick. You should analyze everything that has changed in your routine since you started feeling this way. Lack of sleep could definitely be the culprit, but it might have something else that is also messing with your immune system. Have you been especially stressed? Or is there any way you’ve been exposed to certain germs? I had read somewhere (but I think it was in a magazine, so not scientifically based) that exercise should help when you’re sick.

    • Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy March 15, 2012 at 9:11 am #

      Good point, I have been stressed lately. I’m sure part of it is lack of sleep and my allergies, too. Normally I get allergy shots, but the doctor had to re-order mine and I’m way behind. I’m hoping that’s all it is! Thanks!

    • Derek June 17, 2012 at 7:38 am #

      Exercise does NOT help when you are sick. Your body needs the rest to fight the virus/bacteria. Can’t do that as efficiently if its working overdrive to build/maintain muscle etc.

  5. Michael March 15, 2012 at 7:39 am #

    Strength training is a thing to get used to if you have not done it on a consistent basis before. It breaks down you muscles a lot fast and in a lot more areas than say cardio. Once your muscles are broken down they have to rebuild. To help with the Achy part make sure that you get a good 10 min or so stretch in after you are done lifting. Also sleep is VERY important. I know its hard to get in 8hrs or so a night but getting solid sleep is important. This is what helps build your muscles back up after you have broken them down. Make sure you are eating something about 10 min before and 10 min after you are done. This again will give you some nutrients to help. I use to get really sick feeling in high school right after swim practice and I accounted it to not eating before practice and also trying to have a little variety in what I eat. Don’t be eating the same thing for breakfast, lunch and snack before practice every day. I am by no means a trainer, but this is what has worked for me and I have been doing this for about 11 years! Let me know if you need any more advice, or on how to stretch etc.

  6. notsodomesticated March 15, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    I agree with what Dana said. Regardless, i hope you feel better soon!

  7. thehealthyapron March 15, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Before you jump in to supplementation, it really sounds like you are experiencing over training. How hard are you working? I would suggest taking it down a few notches on ALL The workouts and see if that doesn’t help! Exercising too much can weaken your immune system!!

  8. Caitlin March 15, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    The glutamine sounds interesting! I have never heard of it or how it helps with amino acids. Those are important when it comes to proteins so it def makes sense, but I agree with thehealthyapron – try not to jump to supplements first. I myself am not a big fan of supplements and try to get all my nutrients in through food, except I do take probiotics.
    The sleep thing is DEFINITELY likely to be affecting you. Maybe your body is fighting off a cold and keeps trying, and then the strength training + low sleep sets you back a little bit each time, and it’s like your body resets on the fight against the cold and starts all over again. So it never has a chance to fully recover. So perhaps one or two rest days in a row would help, or one or two days in a row with just cardio? Strength training is TOUGH on the whole body while cardio is often toughest on the heart so it doesn’t surprise me that this is happening after strength and not cardio.

  9. Laura @ LauraLikesDesign March 15, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    Ah, that is so interesting! I have no idea but I hope you feel better soon–that sounds awful!

  10. fitandfuninthird March 15, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    My husband takes glutamine and swears by it! I hope it helps you!

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