Exercising When Sick: Good or Bad Idea?
Wellness Dec 8, 2016
Exercising When Sick: Good or Bad Idea?

A regular fitness routine makes most people feel good on an everyday basis, and being fit can help you ward off illness because it strengthens your immunity. But how do you know if and when it’s okay to get in your workout if you’re feeling under the weather?

If you’re not feeling too ill, exercise is usually still doable and can even help you fight illness thanks to the boost to your immune system. But sometimes, it’s advisable to take some time to rest and recover rather than trying to sweat it out.

Let your symptoms be your guide:

  • If you have a fever, take a break from your workout. Raising your body temperature while exercising when your internal body temperature is already elevated can make you more sick. Wait 24 hours after your fever improves to consider resuming exercise.
  • If your symptoms are mild and “above the neck” – sneezing, sniffling, nasal congestion, sore throat, minor cough – it’s okay to work out if you feel up to it.
  • If you are experiencing bronchial tightness, a deep cough, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea or fatigue, rest until the symptoms subside.

Other things to keep in mind when you’re sick:

  • Even if you aren’t too sick to skip your workout, modify what you do until you feel better. Take it down a notch or two so you don’t exacerbate any symptoms.
  • Start out doing low-intensity exercise until you see how your body responds. If you think your body can handle it, slowly increase intensity. It’s a good idea to stick to activities such as jogging, walking, biking, swimming, and tai chi. Skip high-intensity activities such as running, endurance training, heavy strength training or team sports.
  • If symptoms worsen, cut back on exercise or stop completely.
  • If you have to take a break from exercising for a few days due to illness, ease back into your routine over the same time frame. So if you were out of commission for four days, gradually increase your activity levels during the next four days until you’re back to your usual routine.