UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020
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It’s fairly well known that exercise can boost immunity. People who are physically active experience one-third less sick days than people who do not exercise. While regular exercise has been proven to cut down the amount of sick days you experience and the severity of said sick days, the same is not necessarily true about working out during an illness.
Rest if Below the Neck
If you have symptoms from the neck up such as a stuffy nose or a sore throat then it’s probably just a rhinovirus or the common cold. If your symptoms are only present above your neck, then doing a light workout should be okay. In fact, mild cardiovascular exercise can help symptoms of the common cold by opening up the airways and getting the blood flowing. But when you start to feel achy or develop a fever, diarrhea, swollen glands or chest congestion then it’s time to lay off exercise for a while. If you are experiencing these symptoms, then you most likely have the flu or a chest cold, in which case you should stay home until all your symptoms have disappeared. Below are some deciding factors for whether or not you should stay up with your exercise routine while sick.
Do Exercise If:
- Do work out if your symptoms are above the neck and you feel ok.
- Do work out if you have a bit of a sore throat and feel ok.
- Do work out if you have a mild headache and feel ok.
- Do work out if you are planning on doing light cardio to see if it opens up your sinuses a bit.
Do Not Exercise If:
- Do not work out if you have symptoms below your neck.
- Do not work out if you intend to go to the gym. Other members don’t want your cold.
- Do not work out if you have a fever.
- Do not work out you feel nauseous.
- Do not work out if you have are congested.
- Do not work out if you have body aches or pains.
Of course, you should use your best judgment above all else. If you are feeling miserable, then do yourself and your immune system a favor and take a few days off from working out. When you finally recover and head back to the gym, you will hardly miss a beat. You should be right back to where you were fitness-wise within one or two workout sessions.
Making sure your body’s immune system has a chance to adequately recover by not exercising is a better choice than exercising when sick and potentially prolonging your illness. If you are ill, you shouldn’t want to work out. There are times when it is okay to take a break and relax your body. If you feel like you are practically on your death bed but still have the desire to hit the gym, you may have an exercise addiction. Addiction to exercise can lead to other health conditions down the road. For more information about exercise, addition check out Can You Exercise Too Much?