Exercising When Sick: A good move?


With the cold and flu season approaching, a common question we hear from our clients is “should I exercise when I am sick?”  When it comes to a cold or flu many individuals feel they need to stick to their exercise routine, even if it means crawling to the gym rather than crawling under the covers.  Common myths like we can “sweat out a cold,” don’t help.  The truth is exercising when you’re sick could do you more harm than good.

Yes, moderate exercise boosts your immune system however; high intensity exercise suppresses the immune system.  If your body’s immune system is compromised when fighting a cold, the last thing you should be doing is weakening your immune system even more by intense exercise.  This could worsen the infection or lead to more serious infections.

So when are you too sick to workout?  A simple rule of thumb is if your symptoms are mild and are all above the neck (runny nose, sore throat) then you will probably be ok to exercise.  (Although I would stay home and rest more myself).  Plus your fellow gym members won’t be too happy you are spreading your germs all over the place.   If the symptoms are below the neck (fever, muscle ache, cough or diarrhea) definitely stay home and rest.

Be smart about your health.  The most important thing is to listen to your body and how you feel.  If you are low on energy and tired your body is telling you something like maybe you should be getting extra rest not extra reps.  When in doubt consult your doctor.

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