Can you bicycle when you’re sick?

The short answer:


Do I?


:) At least, not usually. I have been sick five times since I started my new job in mid-September. Yep, five times. I’ve had two sore throats, one bout of extreme nausea, a mild cold and one knock-me-on-my-socks cold/flu that lasted nearly two weeks. This is all despite my best efforts (drinking beet juice, tea and kombucha, eating lots of veggies, taking vitamins, doing yoga twice a week, meditating and riding my bike every day, using a neti pot, etc.). This has happened to me every year I’ve worked in schools – I get sick a lot in the beginning, being exposed to all those darn germs. And add to that the stress of taking night classes, getting used to a new schedule and having my own business in addition to my job.

Copyright: Five Seed

I’ve been pretty vigilant about trying to take care of myself, in all the ways I mentioned above. But when I feel an illness coming on, I get off my bike. I have heard from many reliable sources that you can ride your bike or exercise when you’re sick with no worries, as long as you listen to your body and don’t overtax it. It can help keep your immune system strong. But…when it’s below freezing outside (and it usually is these days), and I’m feeling tired, run-down and fighting off a cold, I default to my car. This is a huge frustration for me, because I LOVE riding my bike so very much. I love being outside, especially at this time of year and (not to sound vain, but…) I love to hear people yell out how much they love my bike. (Who wouldn’t love that?!)

But when I listen to my body, it usually tells me to stay warm and rest. If this means a 4-mile round-trip journey in my car, then so be it. This week, and half of last week, I have had to take my car. I will probably take it again Wednesday and Thursday, because of appointments I have after work. So next week, I’ll be back in the saddle again, assuming I’m feeling better by then.

What do you do when you’re sick? Do you still bicycle? Do you work out?

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6 thoughts on “Can you bicycle when you’re sick?

  1. Yes definitely take it easy – in a bigger city like Portland, I ride into town in the morning as it’s mostly straight or downhill, and then pop my bike on the light rail or bus up the hill and ride the rest of the way home as the uphill parts are a challenge. I actually would rather bike than bus when I’m sick as the bus always feels like the germs are all locked in a small space and I’d rather get clean fresh air into my lungs :) Also here’s another idea – walk! Leave a bit earlier and walk – many don’t even think about it but people hike 4-5+ miles all the time yet few people think hmm, maybe I can walk to work :)

  2. Good questions! The answer is definitely weather dependent and of course, depending how your body feels. If you feel weak, then probably not. If you feel like exposure to the elements (when the weather isn’t mild) then again, I wouldn’t.

    I think it’s better to err on the side of under-activity when ill than pushing yourself too hard. Always. Often what we really need is more rest. Sleeping kind of rest, as opposed to reading a book or something. IMHO anyway…

    • @Svasti: I totally agree with you. I just feel so run down that I think my body needs rest and that’s what I give it. It is hard sometimes, because I start to feel droopy and calcified when I don’t bicycle and do yoga for several days at a time, but I figure it’s better to endure that than have a relapse!

  3. I try to rest as much as possible. I also wanted to thank you, Yancy, for your luscious lip balm. I look forward to trying more of your yummy products. Bring on the winter winds – at least my lips will be soft!

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