When treating mono, exercise needs to be approached with caution. Most doctors will advise at least a months rest when treating mono to ensure the spleen does not rupture and the body has a chance to recover.
It is not unusual to see athletes and sports people struck down with mononucleosis at the height of their careers. It’s a fact that exertion and over training can suppress the immune system to the point that infections are easily picked up or reactivated.
For example, Australia’s Olympic swimmer Grant Hackett originally suffered from mononucleosis, when he raced in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Four years later he climbed from his sick bed again to win in Athens. Only later was it revealed that he had swum with a partially collapsed lung which reduced his lung capacity by a quarter.
For the 2008 Olympics, Hackett had taken extraordinary precautions to avoid infection. These included wearing face masks on the plane, avoiding handrails and other public surfaces, and even refraining from kissing his wife in the lead up to his events. He also decided not to march in the opening ceremony. Hackett had been confined to his bed for a day prior to the competition with a chest complaint that affected his breathing. On the big day of competition Hackett was beaten by less than a second in the Mens 1500m Final. This dashed his hopes of claiming a third consecutive Olympic title.
Hackett is not alone in suffering the long term effects of mononucleosis. Another Australian swimming champion Ian Thorpe resigned from his elite swimming career in 2006, citing health complications due to having mononucleosis.
There are many cases of athletes and sportsmen and women world wide whose careers have been destroyed by mononucleosis. It is well established that physical performance can be reduced during mononucleosis infection. The best approach to treating mono may be to rest in the early stages of the disease and to avoid over training till the body has fully recovered.