Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?

exercise when sickGetting sick when you’re in the middle of a muscle building or fat burning program can be frustrating. It means indefinite rest time till the illness passes. Sometimes that could mean weeks or even months of recovery until you start getting back on track. The thing is you just can’t pick up where you left off. Some lost muscle memory and stimulation mean decrease in performance, in which case, you may have to revert to lighter weights or less intensive training.

Should you work out or not?

It turns out there’s no straightforward answer to this question. It all boils down to what type of sickness you have. Is it serious? Is it debilitating? Is it something that demands ample rest time?

A common cold could mean you should stay away from the gym for a while until the symptoms disappear, so you don’t spread the virus to other gym goers. However, you can still work out at home if you have your own equipment. Or maybe you can do bodyweight workouts for a while until you can go back to the gym, hopefully not too long.

What if you have a fever?

Fever is one sign that you have to forego workouts until you’re well. Fever and exercise don’t go well together. When you have a fever, your body’s temperature is already elevated beyond normal. When you exercise, your body’s internal temperature tends to rise too because you’re burning calories and activating your muscles, all causing cascades of chemical reactions in the body that raise your temperature. You don’t need any more rise in body temperature when you have a fever.

What should you do meanwhile?

If you don’t have a fever, but you have other symptoms like drowsiness or weakness, it’s best to just skip all workouts and just rest until you recover and regain your strength. It’s a bad idea to lift weights or hit the treadmill when you’re lethargic or just not feeling okay.

So this is what you’re going to do. Assess your condition. How bad are your symptoms? Can you get up from bed? Are you able to go about your daily activities without feeling worse? If yes, then consider warming up. People with colds or mild flu feel better after doing a 10-minute cardio as a warm-up. But if after warming up, you don’t feel okay or your symptoms get worse, stop!

Is your breathing affected?

A simple cold may be accompanied by some nasal congestion, which is easily remedied by decongestants or a steam bath. Most people with common cold can continue their fitness regimen without any problem.

But if your illness is accompanied by chest tightness or bronchial congestion and tightness, it’s a good idea to cancel your workout and wait for complete recovery. Remember that your body needs more lung work when you exercise to bring in more oxygen and take out carbon dioxide. When your air passages are congested due to infection or allergy, your respiratory system will not be able to handle the demands of a workout.

As a rule, if you’re sick and able, test the waters. If you’re okay with a set, then you’re probably fine. But if you start feeling dizziness, chest pain, or anything bad, stop, drop and dumbbells, and go home.

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