When it is okay to exercise while you are sick and when it is not
Common sense says that you shouldn't exercise if you don't feel well, but there are a few exceptions. If you are worried that your illness is taking you off your fitness goals, you should know this.
As most trainers and doctors will tell you (and as youtuber PictureFit explains in this video), the general rule of thumb is "above or below the neck check". If you have symptoms above the neck such as coughing, sneezing, sore throat or blocked nose, you can probably still exercise. These symptoms do not indicate anything too serious - usually it is allergies or a mild cold - so it is probably okay if you feel up to the training.
However, if you have symptoms below the neck, it is best to take a day of rest. These include fever, fatigue and body aches - so if you have COVID or a flu, you should probably take some time off. The same applies to symptoms such as vomiting or even a slimy cough, as this is caused by chest congestion.
There is another potential problem with COVID and, some doctors argue, viral diseases in general. Exercise during the time you are suffering from these diseases can increase the risk of heart infection. It is not clear how common this inflammation is or how serious it could be, but you should play it safe until we know more.
If you feel that you need to rest, you should definitely not exert yourself too much. It is better to miss a few training sessions than to prolong your illness and miss a bunch of them.
If you still decide to train, you should take it easy. Hard training requires a lot of recovery, which we usually think of in terms of food and sleep, but these bodily functions must now drive your recovery from training and your recovery from the disease. So you may want to reduce the intensity and/or length of your workout. When you are lifting, choose a simple set of five or ten instead of testing a one-repetition high. If you run, do an easy run instead of mountain or long distance sprints.
Make sure you always drink enough fluids and observe how you feel. If at any time your symptoms worsen, stop and rest. And finally, and most importantly, do not go to the gym or anywhere else where people can come into contact with your germs. Just because you want to exercise does not mean that other people want to get sick.
Was this article helpful? 49 Posted by: 👨 Denise J. Krupa