So, your workout has been going great and you’ve not skipped a day in a while. In fact, you’re killing it!
But then you catch a cold or stomach bug and get sick, and can’t decide whether to work out or take a break to give your body a chance to heal.
On one hand, you’re worried that working out could make your symptoms worse or make your recovery take longer. But, you’re also concerned about losing your momentum and progress if you skip a few days or a week.
Three steps forward, five steps backward.
How Bad Are Your Symptoms?
Whether you should work out when you’re sick depends on the severity of your symptoms.
Generally, it’s safe to work out if your symptoms are above the neck but consider reducing the length and intensity of your workout.
On the other hand, if your symptoms are below the neck, you should probably wait until you’re feeling much better.
Exercising When You Have a Cold or Flu
If you have a runny, stuffy nose, minor sore throat, sneezing and, any other symptoms that are indicative of a mild cold, it’s probably okay to workout.
If you don’t have the energy for your regular workout, stick to low or moderate intensity exercises. Listen to your body during your workout and stop if you start experiencing chest tightness, lightheadedness or muscle aches.
The major downside of going to the gym with a cold or flu is that you might be contagious. You could infect other people, especially if you’re sneezing or blowing your nose constantly. So be sure to spray and wipe down the equipment before and after use.
Alternatively, you can choose to go for a walk outdoors to further reduce the chances of infecting other people.
If you have a hacking cough or chest congestion, working out could make you even sicker. Physical activity increases your heart rate, which can lead to shortness of breath.
Exercising When You Have a Fever
Fever weakens you and lowers your stamina for physical activity. Even worse, it decreases your muscle and tissue strength, making your body more prone to injuries.
Working out under these conditions could raise your body temperature, making your fever worse and maybe even cause dehydration and fatigue.
Exercising When You Have a Stomach Bug
If you have stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, take a break from your workout routine. Working out could make you feel more nauseous and increase your heart rate, leaving you extremely tired.
Sweating can also drain valuable minerals and fluids from your body and cause dehydration.
When it comes to exercise and illness, it’s better to do what you can and leave what you can’t do for another day.
In the grand scheme of things, a few missed, or lighter days, isn’t a big deal, especially if you’re able to recover more quickly. The last thing you want is to compromise your long term health for a few minutes of exercise.