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Can I Exercise When I’m Sick?

Dec 11, 2017

At this time of year, in particular, many readers want to know “Can I exercise when I’m sick?”

Well, that depends entirely on what you mean by “sick.” If you’re periodically purging the contents of your stomach, you’re probably not up to the elliptical. Similarly, if you’re fighting off a nasty case of Chickenpox, chances are pushups are the last thing on your mind.

But what if you are simply fighting off the common cold? What are the guidelines?

Typically, exercise is a safe option if you have the sniffles, and can absolutely take your mind off of your misery for a little while. In fact, The Mayo Clinic suggests that a workout is perfectly acceptable if your symptoms are “above the neck.” That more or less signifies the congestion and throat irritation that arrives, pretty much, at the same time you’re preparing to deck the halls each year.

Medical professionals and personal trainers tend to agree: if you’re not at 100%, but you still want to exercise – listen to your own body. Pace yourself. Work in conjunction with your personal trainer to reduce the intensity of your workout, or switch up your routine. If you’re running out of steam, take a break. If your symptoms seem to worsen, call it a day.

There’s no reason to worry about overt complications when exercising with the common cold. In fact, if you practice good hydration, there’s a good chance that exercise can assist with the congestion you’re experiencing. As always, hydration is the key – not only in this situation, but concerning life in general.

So: “Can I exercise when I’m sick?” If you have a mild cold, absolutely. Just keep the following in mind:

  • Do not exercise until you have been fever free for 24 hours.
  • Do not exercise if you are achy, or are exhibiting symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, or a rash.
  • Do not exercise if you have contributing conditions such as asthma or chronic heart disease.

Preventing the spread of sickness and germs should be a primary concern. If you do head to the fitness studio for some calisthenics while fighting the common cold, be considerate of the people exercising around you, including your personal trainer!

  • Sneeze and/or cough into the crook of your elbow. Tissues are ok, too – but be sure to promptly discard them.
  • Wipe down any equipment after use.
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water, and make liberal use of hand sanitizer.

Here’s another crucial thing to keep in mind: while working out may be a perfectly acceptable outlet while you’re slightly under the weather, do not turn to exercise in hopes of “burning off” a sickness. It simply does not work. The quickest and most foolproof way to beat a cold is proper hydration and getting appropriate rest.

Of course, if you have any concerns, consult your family physician. Take care of yourself and respect your body’s wishes, and you’ll be back to the physical fitness studio in no time.


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