Updated: Aug 23, 2021
This is the time of year that this question comes up. You have been so great about your new exercise routine, rarely missing a day since you started up again. Then all of a sudden you are waylaid by a cold or flu.
What should you do? Should you skip the workout for a late afternoon nap? Will it be hard to get started again if you skip a day or two?
Exercising When Sick: Should You or Shouldn't You?
The answer depends on what ails you. For example, exercising with a cold may be OK, but if you've got a fever, hitting the gym is a definite no-no.
Fever is the limiting factor, the danger is exercising and raising your body temperature internally if you already have a fever, because that can make you even sicker. If you have a fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, sit this one out.
Do what you can do, and if you can't do it, then don't. Most people who are fit tend to feel worse if they stop their exercise, but if you have got a bad case of the flu and can't lift your head off the pillow, then chances are you won't want to go run around the block.
The general rule is that if it is just a little sniffle and you take some medications and don't feel so sick, it's OK to work out. But if you have any bronchial tightness, it's not advisable to be working out. You really need to know your limits.
A neck check is a way to determine your level of activity during a respiratory illness, If your symptoms are above the neck, including a sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, and tearing eyes, then it's OK to exercise, If your symptoms are below the neck, such as coughing, body aches, fever, and fatigue, then it's time to hang up the running shoes until these symptoms subside.
Think of it this way, your body is fighting something, we don't want to take "resources" from the fight, instead we want to help boost your immune system. I encourage clients that do not have fever, to do a more moderate, regenerative workout. If you are normally going at a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 in your normal workouts, drop back to a steady 4-5. I want the workout to be a steady, (not HIIT) lower ratio. This way we are boosting, helping your body. Creating endorphins, not depleting your stores. In a way, its permission to go lighter, listen to your body - it can be a fun, calming change from your normal fitness routine! And remember, you are creating a healthy body.....you know what a healthy body can do? Fight against illness, and age better!