Should You Work Out When You’re Feeling Sick?

You may not feel sick enough to stay in bed, but you wonder if you're too sick to go ahead with your usual work-out routine. All you know for sure is you aren't feeling great. Your throat is scratchy and your head is congested, so you aren't certain about what to do. That's when you can use your symptoms as a guide.

Symptoms Above the Neck

If you're suffering symptoms above the neck, such as those associated with a cold, a low-impact exercise like walking won't hurt you. Even though you don't have to miss out on exercise completely, you should take it slow for a few days. Part of staying in shape means listening to your body.

Cut back on both the time and intensity of exercise until you're feeling better. Since some symptoms can increase your heart rate when you exercise, work out only if you feel up to it. Giving your body the rest it needs can help you get back to your usual work-out routine more quickly.

Symptoms Below the Neck

If your symptoms are below the neck, the stress of rigorous exercise drains energy from your body that it needs to recover. Working out when you have achy muscles and joints, vomiting, and diarrhea can make you sicker if you overdo it. Fever, chills, and coughing also are signs you need to rest, as these can be symptoms of the flu.

You can make yourself sicker by ignoring flu symptoms and not staying in bed. When you have a fever, the stress an intense workout puts on your body can cause your temperature to climb higher. If your fever is 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, experts recommend forgoing your workout for the day and giving your body the rest it needs to repair itself.

You can help your recovery along by:

  • Slowing down the pace. Although under normal circumstances exercise helps boost the immune system, pushing yourself too hard when you're sick can do more harm than good. Both illness and exercise put stress on the body; therefore, too much physical activity can suppress a weakened immune system even more.

  • Keeping your body well hydrated. Your body temperature rises and your heart rate increases as your body loses water during exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking about 17 ounces of fluid two hours before your workout and then drinking fluids at regular intervals while you are exercising to replace the water you lose through sweating.

  • Getting adequate sleep. Even when you aren't sick, your body needs sleep to recover from exercise. That's when it produces the growth hormone it needs for tissue growth and repair. Your immune cells also go to work when you're asleep. To learn more about fitness, contact someone like 180 Fitness.