Should You Exercise When You Are Sick?

woman running on wooden boardwalk sunrise seaside

So you have made the commitment to exercise more, but then you find out that you’re feeling under the weather. Now you’re thinking if you should power through or just rest for a few days. The answer will depend on the exact symptoms you’re experiencing.

For example, if you have a common cold and choose to work out, you’ll probably feel worse while exercising, but then feel good right after. But what if you’re afflicted with more than just the common cold?

Should you exercise if you’re suffering from the flu?

Flu symptoms usually include headache, fever, runny nose, cough, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you ask sports medicine experts in Clive, Iowa, you’ll find that it’s better not to work out and exert yourself physically when you are this sick.

Ample rest will enable your body to heal faster and help you bounce back sooner. Working out with the flu could weaken your body further, not to mention infect others at the gym. Additionally, overexerting yourself could make fighting off the influenza virus much harder and take you longer to heal.

Aside from that, there’s also a chance that your symptoms will worsen or you’ll develop complications. For instance, working out with the flu might result in myocarditis or heart inflammation.

Check your symptoms to be safe.

An easy way to figure out how sick you are is to perform an evaluation of your symptoms. In general, if your symptoms are mainly above your neck, such as sore throat, nasal congestion, or runny nose, you can work out.

But if you also have symptoms below your neck such as shortness of breath, wheezing, muscle aches, and diarrhea, it’s best that you take a couple of days from exercising to allow yourself to recover. Likewise, exercising when you have a fever or if you’re dizzy or nauseated is not a good idea.

Take it slow and be kind to your body.

woman in workout clothes drinking water

If you think that you can power through a work out session despite your symptoms, reduce the load and intensity and check yourself after 15 minutes of exercising. If you find that your symptoms worsen or intensify, take a breather and rest.

If your symptoms pass, try moving around again, but just make sure to check yourself every 10 minutes or so to be on the safe side. Additionally, stay sufficiently hydrated.

When you’re just experiencing a mild cold or some nasal congestion, yes, you can choose to work out but make sure always to check yourself every couple of minutes to see how you’re doing. If you think you’re well enough to exercise but don’t have the as much energy as normal, reduce the length and intensity of your workout.

On the other hand, when you have more serious symptoms such as a fever, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and productive cough, just take several days off to let yourself recover. With that said, to ensure your safety and health when you are sick, listen to your doctor’s recommendations and what your body’s trying to tell you.