Should You Get Fit When You’re Sick?

This question often arises when your active lifestyle and a fixed schedule of training is being broken by an illness. Unfortunately, it happens, and no one is immune to catching some bug not only in public places but also without leaving their own house. According to statistics, the average adult experiences two to five common colds each year, so what to do when faced with an ailment? Rock the gym or stay in bed? Let’s figure it out.

woman ill on treadmill

Is It Bad To Workout While Sick?

Truth be told, it depends. First of all, it depends on the seriousness of your disease: is it a severe infection or just a malaise? Here the rule of so-called “above-the-neck” symptoms works. If you have a runny nose, watery eyes, a headache, allergies, but don’t have anything “below-the-neck” including muscle aches, high fever, diarrhea, upset stomach, bronchitis, you can feel free to train. However, make sure that during these days your workout is low-intensity and shorter than usual, otherwise, you risk to have complications affecting all vital organs.

It is bad to workout while sick if you overestimate your body limits. Don’t be a fanatic, stay safe, and remember to build your immune system before building your muscles.

Exercise With Fever

Body temperature over 99.5°F signals that it’s time to hang up the running shoes and stay at home. Exercise with fever will lead to more serious increases in body temperature, as both workout and high temperature pull moisture out of your body. Severe dehydration raises the risk of more prolonged and difficult recovery period.

The fever won’t go away until you take a couple days off from the gym, besides you’re unlikely to do your best in this condition, so it’s definitely better to devote that time to your health.

Working Out With Flu

Flu (or influenza) usually causes a cough, fever, chills, stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches, and sore throat – the symptoms, covering both above and below the neck areas, that’s why exercising with flu is a definite no-no.

The danger is that the flu can resemble a common cold at an early stage, and the wrong treatment or working out with flu can make you feel much worse, often suddenly.

Moreover, there is a moral aspect here as well: do you remember that it’s contagious? Unless you’ll train in a face mask (which also doesn’t completely prevent a spread of the virus, by the way), you create a danger of infection for other people inside. Does it really worth it?

Training With a Common Cold

This one is the only more or less safe variant if being smart about it. Can’t wait to hit the gym? Then follow these easy rules:

  • reduce your training duration by 30-50%
  • reduce the intensity of the workout
  • avoid air-conditioning in the gym
  • drink even more water than usual
  • be attentive to your body signals

Sport is like fire: it can be both friend and foe – everything depends on how we use it.

Helen Rogers is an editor of She helps people get stronger. She shares running and sports questions, beauty tips. All her stories are result-oriented and make her readers become healthy, wealthy and wise.

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