This year has seen one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory. It’s already responsible for the tragic deaths of 97 children alone (the CDC does not maintain specific data on adult deaths from flu).
So this is a very serious concern. But our profession is especially susceptible to the flu. Hygiene is already an enormous concern in the gym (seriously, wipe down the equipment when you’re done). There are so many ways an individual can make unintended contact with disease. An incubation period is the total time that passes between a person getting infected and a person showing symptoms. People will usually have between one and four days with the disease before showing any signs or symptoms. Just think about the last time you exercised through an illness, and then remember that more people are like that than not in the CPT industry.
With this in mind, how do you protect yourself from getting the flu to begin with? And what advice should you pass on to your clients to ensure that they don’t get sick (if they’re sick, they can’t, or shouldn’t, train).
1. Get Your Flu Shot
This is not a joking matter. The overwhelming majority of the 97 children who died of the flu this year were unvaccinated. Now, it’s true that children have developing immune systems which make them more vulnerable. That still doesn’t let us adults off the hook from getting the flu vaccine.
You can read the real information behind flu shot myths and we highly encourage it. Vaccinations are one of the best things to happen to humans, and we have thrived because of them. Even people with immunodeficiencies are encouraged to get the vaccine each year.
2. Wash Your Hands
This is probably one of the single greatest contributors to the spread of disease. Your hands come in contact with so many things — your computer, your desk, books, devices, steering wheels, gym equipment. This is why it’s so important to wash your hands. It’s even possible to transmit a disease without catching it.
We go to the bathroom on average of 6-7 times per day. That’s 6-7 opportunities to stop a disease from being transmitted. Additionally, all sorts of bacteria live in bathrooms, no matter how meticulously they are maintained. Wash your hands. Seriously.
3. Cough & Sneeze into Your Arm
Covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze can stop the spread of most communicable diseases. That being said, if you cover with your hand, you are more likely to spread the disease further. Instead, resort to your arm, somewhere around the elbow or bicep. You should still not shake hands at all. I’m sure business colleagues and friends would prefer to stay well than risk their health for a handshake.
4. Don’t Go to the Office or Gym
There are a lot of people who don’t want to let an illness keep them down. We applaud this spirit. But let’s make one thing clear: the only reason to go into work or the gym while sick is to communicate to others how strong you are, not about “soldiering on.”
When you are contagious, going into places with lots of people in closer quarters is exceedingly irresponsible. Some people are forced to because they don’t have sick leave in their jobs and need to pay rent. Even so, just keep in mind that when you go into work anyway, you are directly threatening the health of everyone else there, too. Do you want to be that person?
5. Don’t Get Back in Too Soon
When the severity of the symptoms begins to decline, many people take this as a positive note and then immediately start back in with normal routines. Remember that even after all symptoms are gone, the disease is often still in your system for an additional week.
Training too early after an illness can cause a relapse. This can be an aftereffect of stress as well. Just make sure that you’re not diving in too quickly afterward.
If flu is caught early enough, your doctor can give you Tamiflu which will significantly reduce the strength and duration of your illness. But it only works if caught early enough. So don’t avoid the doctor. Get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Try some over the counter medications and expectorants that will at the very least alleviate some symptoms. Follow this advice and everyone will be much better off.
And remember — the health of your clients is the health of your business.