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Should you Exercise when you are Sick?

The symptoms are usual. Running nose, sniffing, sneezing, cough and a heavy head. So should you still stick to your workout session and venture out for the jog or should you take a break from your exercise routine till you can smell and feel like a normal human again?

The answer is yes and no. Because it  depends on the kind of sickness you have, to judge whether your workout will be good or bad for you in your present state.

Moderate Exercise for Moderate Sickness

According to the American college of Sports Medicine, moderate exercise can actually have beneficial effect in certain cases like when you have cough and cold. Many researchers around the world have seen that people who have symptoms of cold feel much better after a moderate workout regime with the usual cloggy nose, heavy headedness and constant sniffing gone.

A series of studies conducted in the 1990s have shown that that exercise during cold symptoms can actually heal your body faster cutting the days of sickness to half.

But the stress here is on the word moderate.

People who are used to exercising for an hour should cut down their routine to half an hour along with choosing routines that are not too strenuous. Cutting down the duration and the intensity of the regime helps the body not get too tired and still allows you to continue your fitness programme in spite of your symptoms.

But if you go overboard with your exercise and still follow the usual routine with a sick and aching body, it may make you body get dehydrated faster and the strain may only add to the pressure your immune system is feeling because of their fight with the alien microbes in your body. The added strain can weaken the immune system and lead to a condition where your body becomes more vulnerable to other infections.

When not to Exercise

A fever, congestion in the lungs, specific aches and any other symptom associated with a more serious ailment than the common cold are the type of conditions that require a healing time without the gym. Some experts have a rule they like to call the ‘neck rule’ that can be used to decide whether your condition needs complete bedtime or you can still venture out for a workout. According to this rule if your symptoms lie above the neck like a blocked nose, sore throat or a mild headache, they are not an excuse for skipping the gym and you can still walk, run, jog or hit the treadmill. In cases where the symptoms lie below the neck, like stomach infection, chest congestion, or any other ailment, the bed is the best place to be for a complete rest period.

But even if you follow the neck rule, it is important to understand your body condition in a case to case basis and exercise when you know that the body will be able to bear the activity.


  • Keep drinking water or other liquids especially if you have a cold as a running nose can cause dehydration faster. There are also many cold medicines that dry your throat and it is better to remain hydrated.
  • If you are in a public place like a gym be extra cautious to wipe out everything you touch and use so that others may not catch the germs you left while working-out.
  • Avoid using someone else’s water bottle or towel after a routine. This not only saves that person from your germs but also saves you from getting infested with other infections as your body immune system is already vulnerable.

Image Credit melissaclark via cc/Flickr


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