Should I Exercise If I’m Sick?

Figure out if you need adjust your exercise routine because of an illness.

The odds of catching a bug during the winter months are high, and if you get sick your workout routine might need some adjustments. The decision to exercise when you’re not feeling well depends heavily on what your body is fighting off. Decode your immune system and figure out just how much your body can handle with these tips.

You’ve Caught a Common Cold

A case of a runny nose and sneezing is typically not enough to keep you from working out. Symptoms of a common cold, including nasal congestion and a slightly sore throat, can actually benefit from a low-intensity workout. Remaining active when you have a cold may help to improve your immune system and make you feel better. If you do workout, it’s important to remember not to push yourself: With your immune system compromised you won’t have the same stamina and energy as usual.

You should try to workout at home to prevent your cold from spreading to others. If you choose to go to the gym, make sure to wipe down all the equipment before and after you use it with a disinfectant to kill any lingering germs.

You Have a High Fever, Fatigue, and Muscle Aches

Severe symptoms such as a high fever, shortness of breath, or intense muscle aches are signs that your system is fighting off a virus and also signs that you should stay in bed. You will limit your body’s ability to rid itself of the illness if you are pushing yourself to exercise — you’ll be using valuable fuel and energy on your workout instead of on fighting the virus. Listen to your body and stay in bed: Avoid prolonging the illness by allowing your body to rest and recover.

Once your symptoms have subsided for at least 24 hours, feel free to slowly begin to exercise again. Don’t go too hard on the first day, you don’t want to tire out your body and relapse.

You’re Experiencing Vomiting or Diarrhea

Stomach bugs can lead to severe dehydration and fluid loss as a result of excessive vomiting or diarrhea. When you exercise in this condition, the sweat loss will only continue to dehydrate your body. Give yourself a break if you are experiencing these symptoms and swap working out for resting and drinking fluids.

When you start to feel better you can gradually return to your regular workout regimen. Consult a physician if you’re not sure when you can begin exercising again.


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