Is working out while sick a good idea?

Fit man resting. Is it OK to exercise when sick?

We are in the middle of the flu season, and at some point many of us will feel under the weather. A runny nose, sore throat and a headache can make you feel quite miserable, but sometimes, you still have some energy. So, you might ask yourself: is it OK to exercise when you’re sick and not feeling your best? 

Firstly: in any case, when in doubt, you should always prefer to check with your doctor whether it’s OK to work out than trust the internet. The world will not end when you need to skip a workout. It is always best to take it easy and fully recover from an illness, than keep doing your normal workout and risk feeling worse later.

Nevertheless, we will try to give you some guidelines for exercising while sick and answer your questions about the cold and flu if you choose to exercise.

Getting the flu or a cold: should you stick to your regular exercise routine

You only have the feeling that you’re getting a common cold or flu, having a mild sore throat or a bit of nasal congestion? Then you can still stick to your training plan, just make sure to take care of hydration. However, listen to your body, when you feel worse after your workout, cut back. Take a few days off, or consider reducing the intensity of your training or the length of your workout to ~50% of your usual workout routine.

Vigorous exercise will cause you to sweat more, raise your body temperature, add to the dehydration, and spend energy on exercising that should be used to recover. This applies especially if you have a fever. In that case, it is best to stay in bed than lie on the weights bench.

If your symptoms are above the neck

If your symptoms are above the neck, which include a runny nose and nasal congestion, it may be safe to exercise while you are sick, but go easy.

If your symptoms are below the neck

With symptoms below your neck like respiratory issues coming from your lungs, coughing, vomiting or diarrhea, muscle aches or chest congestion, it’s best to take some time off and avoid exercise.

Should you go to the gym while sick?

Even if you’re feeling OK to exercise, better stay home than go to the gym when you have a contagious disease. You don’t want to sneeze and spread your germs to others.

Are some workouts better than others when you're sick?

Light exercise like walking or stretching with a low risk of dehydration are better than high cardio training sessions.

Are there tricks to recover faster? Can you “sweat out” illness?

The short answer is: No, you can’t sweat out an illness. Even if exercise may help you feel better for a bit, it will not shorten the time you have a cold, which is usually between 7 – 10 days. But what you can do is reduce the symptoms.

keep the body hydrated
let your body rest
avoid stress
eat a balanced diet
light to moderate exercise may also help you feel better (if you only have light symptoms)

When should I return to exercise?

Again, it is important to listen to your body and when you were very sick, ask your doctor. It can take a while to fully recover from the flu, you will also be short of breath when you come out of a respiratory infection. So, take it easy when you start again, and you will soon be back in the game.

Illness prevention: staying active and eating well

The best methods for preventing illness are to drink plenty of water and to exercise. Especially physical outdoor activities can help boost the immune system. But there’s more to it than just that! What else does your body need to stay healthy? You’ll also need to make sure you’re eating a healthy diet! Your body relies on the nutrients it gets from food. You need to eat food that is rich in these nutrients, fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains are just some of the examples of what your body needs.

So, these were some hints to help you decide whether to exercise when sick. If you found out that working out may not be the best right now and have to skip a few training days: Take care and get well soon! If you are now looking for some light exercise, you could try the Cooldown “Hybrid Relaxation” in our App.

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