Sep 21

Should You Exercise While Sick?

After weeks of faithful gym attendance, nothing can seem more debilitating than a sudden illness. As if feeling sick isn’t tough enough, mustering up the motivation to return to your fitness routine post-recovery can cause even more stress. For some gym regulars, the mere thought of a derailed workout schedule is just too much to fathom. In many cases, a visit to the gym might even sound like the perfect way to sweat away your symptoms.

Feeling a little under the weather? We’re sharing a list of pointers to help you figure out when—and if—it’s safer to skip your regularly scheduled sweat session:

The Simple Rule

Determining if exercising while sick is a viable option depends, primarily, on the symptoms you’re experiencing. For example, a simple cold with a runny nose or sneezing might not raise concerns. On the other hand, a cold that results in a high fever requires rest, fluids and healthy foods. As you exercise, your body’s temperature increases. This could exacerbate existing symptoms and raise concerns about severe reactions, including hallucinations, convulsions, confusion, and dehydration. As a general rule, avoid exercising while sick. If you are not sure that your body can handle the activity, it might be best to pass on that week’s gym visit.

Check With a Doctor

Rumor has it that if your symptoms are “above the neck,” you’re good to go, but if they’re “below the neck” – including body aches, dizziness, or chills – you should stay home. As reasonable as it sounds, don’t let this logic fool you. Speak with a medical professional if you have concerns about the way a workout might impact your health based on your own individual symptoms and medical history.

Take Precautions to Prevent Spreading Illnesses

As cold and flu season approaches, exercising good judgment can help prevent the spread of contagious illnesses and infections via close contact or contaminated surfaces. If you decide to exercise anyway, take whatever measures you can to prevent spreading your illness at the gym. Wear a mask over your face and make sure that you sanitize every surface you touch with a disinfecting wipe. Clean your hands before getting started and stick to a light, modified routine.

Listen to your body

Never exercise if you are experiencing bouts of dizziness or weakness. You should also steer clear of rigorous activity if your body feels achy or uncomfortable. Failing to pay attention to your body poses a risk of worsened symptoms or an extended recovery period. Be sure to grant your body the time it needs to fully recover. The more you overexert yourself, the harder your immune system has to work to get you back to 100%.

Recognizing when to work out and when to stay home and rest can help you fulfill a greater goal of maintaining optimal health. Take a moment to focus on recovering, and your body will thank you with the strongest fitness comeback possible.