In a study at the University of South Carolina, adults who exercised regularly and moderately caught twenty percent fewer upper respiratory tract infections. Exercising while being sick potentially does just that- masks the fact that you really don’t feel well. Plus, the flu is a highly contagious virus that is spread primarily through tiny droplets people with the flu release into the air when they talk, cough or sneeze. © 2005-2020 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. Being healthy and fit is not easy but it is well worth the effort. So why do it? Though ear pain in children is commonly caused by infection, earache in adults is more commonly caused by pain occurring in another area, such as the throat. If body temp >37.5-38 C, or increased coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, do not exercise. A speedy recovery is always the goal when you are sick, but it can be hard to know when it’s ok to power through with your normal gym routine and when it’s best to take a few days off. When you have a fever, your body temperature rises above its normal range, which hovers around 98.6°F (37°C). A mild cold is a viral infection of the nose and throat. If you have a mild cold, there’s no need to skip the gym if you have the energy to work out. “The best advice is to not work out if your symptoms occur below the neck. In fact, if you play it right, moving your body can actually promote immunity and help you fight the bug. While there is no doubt that exercise plays an important role in health, many people wonder if working out while sick will help or hinder their recovery. Certain types of ear infections can throw you off balance and cause fevers and other symptoms that make working out unsafe. This article explores the top 10 benefits of regular exercise, all based on science. Conversely, the opposite is considered to be true - if you’re really sick (for instance, the flu), you should probably not work out as you could be doing more harm than good. Plus, you’re contagious the first five to seven days. While a cough associated with a tickle in the throat isn’t a reason to skip the gym, a more persistent cough can be a sign you need to rest. Since it makes you stronger and healthier, we tend to think that it will help. This article explores whether exercise really helps with weight loss. The problem lies in our reactive societal approach to health and wellness in general - treating symptoms versus causes. Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Exercise: Which Is Best for Weight Loss? Falling sick is not only unpleasant, but it also disrupts your daily routine. If no fever or malaise and no worsening of “above the neck” symptoms: light exercise (pulse <120 bpm) for 30-45 minutes, by yourself, indoors if winter. The answer depends on what ails you, experts tell WebMD. Women’s Health Magazine offers a few rules to consider before exercising while under the weather, including checking in with yourself every 10 minutes, doing a lighter workout, and staying at home as to not spread germs at the gym. I think many people consider their workout sessions a sort of personal therapy, so it's no wonder that an extended hiatus would be challenging for multiple reasons. How Many Calories Do You Burn Lifting Weights? On your first day back to the gym, begin with a low-intensity, shorter workout and be sure to hydrate with water while exercising. Do pure aerobic training, but avoid high-intensity anaerobic training, as intense exercise may actually suppress your immunity. Intense and vigorous exercise can increase your susceptibility to being sick. However, the answer isn’t black and white. Though symptoms vary from person to person, most people who have a cold experience a stuffy nose, headache, sneezing and mild cough (5). People tend to make many mistakes when they try to lose weight. An earache is a sharp, dull or burning pain that can be located in one or both ears. A more valid question might be, “I’m sick. There are enough excuses to not workout, having a cold is not necessarily one of them. Going for a brisk walk or bike ride are great ways to stay active even when you aren’t feeling up to your usual routine. First off, your body will give you signals on whether or not exercise is even possible, or a good idea, when you’re sick. 2. Walking, jogging, swimming, biking, yoga, tai chi or qigong are light to moderate intensity exercises you can do when you’re sick. I guess I’ll chalk my weekend trip up to a lesson learned. Eating the right foods after workouts is important for muscle gain, recovery and performance. 100 other things? So when you are sick, I recommend avoiding HIIT workouts until you have felt 100% better for at least 2 days or so. While exercising when we’re ill may help us feel better for the moment, it hardly helps us slow down to see the bigger picture of our health. Make sure you don’t have one of these ear infections before beginning exercise (9). Food poisoning? Lifting weights is about more than burning calories. In my estimation, the question of exercising when we are sick isn’t the right question to ask in the first place. As Friday rolled around, I still felt not so hot and talked with my coworker about what to do regarding my upcoming weekend plans of snowboarding in the mountains. If you’re wiped out with fatigue there’s no reason to work out. This post helps you do exactly that! C.E Matthews et al, "Moderate to vigorous physical activity and risk of upper- respiratory tract infection,” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2002. That is, when determining whether or not to exercise, if your symptoms are above the neck - sneezing, sore throat, and runny nose - then it’s probably okay to work out. Conventional wisdom suggests that if you’re only sort of sick (for example, a cold), it does no harm to work out and if it feels good, then why not. A persistent cough can make it difficult to take a deep breath, particularly when your heart rate rises during exercise. As mentioned above, the immune system boost that exercising offers can actually make your body more resistant to getting sick in the first place. Eating the right foods before a workout can maximize performance and speed up recovery. Although, if you feel that you lack the energy to get through your normal routine, consider reducing the intensity of your workout or shortening its duration. Additionally, having a fever decreases muscle strength and endurance and impairs precision and coordination, increasing the risk of injury (14). Choosing to work out while sick or not is an individual matter in most cases. While some people worry that a few days off from the gym will set them back and cause a loss of muscle and strength, that’s not the case. Having a stuffy nose can be frustrating and uncomfortable. If you’re sick here’s a few tips for making your way through it and being truly better on the back end: When it comes to the final word on being sick and whether you should exercise, it comes down to three words - rest, reflect, and recover. According to this theory, if you are only experiencing symptoms that are above your neck, such as a stuffy nose, sneezing or an earache, you’re probably ok to engage in exercise (4). Wipe down equipment after you’ve used it to avoid spreading germs. Exercise is incredibly good for you, but getting started can be tough. Many experts concur that the ultimate cause of sickness is stress. When you exercise at a high-intensity, you instead pull that energy away from the battlefield, and your immune cells do not have the resources they need to get you back healthy again. But, just how susceptible are athletes to getting sick? How to Start Exercising: A Beginner's Guide to Working Out. A sinus infection? However, it’s important to let your body completely recover from an illness before returning to your exercise routine, and you shouldn’t stress even if you are unable to work out for an extended period of time. Ear pain can be caused by sinus infections, sore throat, tooth infection or changes in pressure. If, however, your symptoms are “below the neck” — coughing, body aches, fatigue or fever — you may want to take a day off. Feeling weak is common when you have a stomach ailment, increasing the chance of injury during a workout. According to Powell, if you are feeling sick from the neck up — including a sore throat, nasal congestion or sneezing — you should still be okay to work out. Modifying your workout to accommodate your energy level is another option. Common sense suggests you shouldn’t work out when you’re not feeling well, but there are a few exceptions. Exercise is a healthy habit, and it’s normal to want to continue working out, even when you’re feeling under the weather. It’s common sense that we should exercise for boosting our immunity when we’re not sick and that we should rest to boost our immunity when we are sick. While exercising is generally harmless when you have a mild cold or earache, working out when you are experiencing any of the following symptoms is not recommended. If you are feeling restless during a stomach illness, light stretching or yoga at home are the safest options. In fact, the group that exercised, versus the group that didn’t, reported feeling slightly better after exercising. Our website services, content, and products are for informational purposes only. Though perhaps not a popular opinion, I almost think we’re supposed to get sick on occasion. However, many fitness enthusiasts exercise even when they are sick as it helps them pump up some “feel good” hormones. Fevers can cause unpleasant symptoms like weakness, dehydration, muscle aches and loss of appetite. This article explains how to start working out and stick to it in the long run. Diarrhea and vomiting put you at risk of dehydration, which physical activity worsen (16). While all of this is well and good, it’s not necessarily news. However, most earaches can just be uncomfortable and cause a feeling of fullness or pressure in the head. Weidner drew his conclusion from two different controversial studies in which his subjects were actually infected with the common cold. Specifically, exercise is a scientifically proven immunity booster. Of course there are benefits to working out in general as it relates to our health. Exercising regularly has many benefits for your body and brain. Here are 15 common weight loss mistakes to avoid. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves short bursts of intense exercise alternated with recovery periods. From there it depends on the specific form of exercise we’re talking about. What’s more, many stomach illnesses like the stomach flu are highly contagious and can be easily spread to others (17). Fitting in some exercise when sick isn’t always a bad idea. When I had COVID-19, the fatigue was so intense and lasted long after the worst symptoms subsided.And for a … Influenza is a contagious illness that impacts the respiratory system. If you are feeling well enough to work out but lack your usual energy, reducing the intensity or length of your workout is a great way to stay active. All sorts of stuff. And if you have a fever, it's best to give your body a few days to rest and recovery," he says. Here are 7 health benefits of HIIT. You can get a secondary infection. In fact, getting some exercise may help open up your nasal passages, helping you breathe better (10). While there are many ways to alleviate and manage stress (exercise being a key one), there are few ways to actually solve it. A fever can be caused by many things, but it’s most commonly triggered by a bacterial or viral infection (12, 13). She’s right, and the so-called “neck check” is based on a study about exercising while ill. Although a dry, sporadic cough may not impair your ability to perform certain exercises, a frequent, productive cough is reason to skip a workout. Why is body not in balance and what can I learn from being sick?”. Be that as it may, you must carefully decide whether to exercise or not when you are feeling under the weather. For starters, it depends on what you mean by “sick.” Do you have a mild cold? Like many topics in fitness, there isn’t a clear-cut, scientific answer to working out while being sick. And since no one wants to see their hard-earned fitness gains waste away, we want to keep up with our program. Sometimes in life it pays to suck it up and rally, and sometimes you have to know when it’s time to rest and pay attention to your body. I should have been at home resting. A fever? Do not cause your body to be under duress or additional stress when you’re sick. When experiencing symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, fever or a productive cough, it’s best to rest your body and take some time off from the gym to recover. 15 Common Mistakes When Trying to Lose Weight, Pre-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat Before a Workout, Does Exercise Help You Lose Weight? If you feel up to it, there doesn’t seem to be much harm in continuing to work out, he adds. So, while you consider whether or not it is safe to work out when sick, you also need to understand the gym etiquettes when using it during minor illness. While it’s generally ok to exercise with a mild cold, keep in mind that you might spread germs to others and cause them to become ill. As I shivered by the fire at the mountain cabin a few hours later, my weekend trip suddenly didn’t feel like such a great idea. Being sick is one of those times. Furthermore, exercising when sick certainly doesn’t aid your recovery process. At this time of year, one of the most frequently asked questions in and around fitness is, “Should I workout when I am sick?’ Having just learned this lesson the hard way, my short answer is no, you shouldn’t. Though the majority of people recover from the flu in less than two weeks, choosing to engage in intense workouts while sick may prolong the flu and delay your recovery. Evaluating his subjects in a controlled environment, he determined their symptoms were no worse (or better) for exercising while being ill. When it comes to the final word on being sick and whether you should exercise, it comes down to three words - rest, reflect, and recover. If the flare-up was due to a respiratory infection, skip your workout for a few days and see a doctor if symptoms persist. Many people are anxious to get back to the gym after recovering from an illness — and for good reason. Exercising When Sick: Should You or Shouldn't You? A common cold is often characterized by a sore throat, cough, runny nose and that general feeling of being unwell. Although getting back to the gym after an illness is beneficial for your overall health, it is important to listen to your body and doctor when deciding whether you are well enough for more intense activity. Here is a guide to optimal post-workout nutrition. That doesn't mean it's good for you in the long run, though. But if you are up for it, you can modify your fitness routine . By going to the gym when you have a cough, you’re putting fellow gym-goers at risk of being exposed to your germs. While we simplify being sick to the bad luck of “catching” a cold, there is much more to the story. But if you have the flu or other forms of fever-causing systemic infections, exercise is a bad idea. Always practice proper hygiene at the gym, especially when you have a runny nose. Exercising When Sick: What You Need To Know We all know the feeling… Your alarm goes off, but something just isn’t right.. You are supposed to get up, hit the gym, and then get on with the rest of your day – but it’s looking like there may be a slight change of plans. If You've Just Had Covid, Exercise Might Not Be Good for You A growing number of studies are raising concerns about the coronavirus’ long-term effects on the heart. Ultimately, listening to your body to determine if you feel well enough to exercise with a stuffy nose is the best bet. Remember, your body may be feeling weak, especially if you are recovering from a stomach illness or the flu, and it’s important to pay attention to how you are feeling. Your body is still fighting off an attack on your immune system, but it is not completely defenceless and you may still be able to do easy workouts without compromising your recovery. Working out with an earache is considered safe, as long as your sense of balance is not affected and an infection has been ruled out. Illnesses that affect the digestive system, such as the stomach flu, can cause serious symptoms that make working out off-limits. However, it’s ok to work out if you are only experiencing some nasal congestion. An occasional cough is a normal response to irritants or fluids in the body’s airways, and... Stomach Bug. Get updates and special offers delivered directly to your inbox. However, more frequent episodes of coughing can be a symptom of a respiratory infection like a cold, flu or even pneumonia. Working out with the following symptoms is most likely safe, but always check with your doctor if you are unsure. However, if you caught a mild cold or are experiencing some nasal congestion, there’s no need to throw in the towel on your workout. Practicing proper hygiene is a great way to prevent spreading your cold to others. If you feel you are capable of exercise when sick, … If you are experiencing other symptoms that are often associated with a common cold, such as fatigue and congestion, consider reducing the intensity of your normal exercise routine. This pain, which is known as “referred pain,” then transfers to the ear (7, 8). Things might not be as bad as you think: If you're flat on your back for a week-assuming you stick to a regular gym routine when you're healthy-you'll lose about 30 percent of your fitness, especially your cardio output, says Olson. However, if you are experiencing a mild sore throat caused by something like a common cold or allergies, working out is likely safe. “A fever is your body’s way of telling you slow down and it’s important to listen to your body.”. Productive or Frequent Cough. Being sick sucks — especially when you're a fitness fanatic. Engaging in regular exercise is an excellent way to keep your body healthy. Reducing the duration of your workout is another way to modify activity when you feel well enough to workout but don’t have your usual stamina. There’s a long standing and widely held (though not fully proven) belief that exercising has a “J” shaped effect on the immune system and, by extension, on your susceptibility to picking up infections and illnesses. A sore throat is usually caused by a viral infection like the common cold or flu (11). Furthermore, coughing is one of the main ways illnesses like the flu are spread. A: While exercise can be helpful in strengthening the immune system to fight off illness, it is not always advisable once you become ill. Ebola? Watch: Dr. Montero discusses whether you should exercise when sick. That said, you're not crazy if you think working out while sick makes you feel like you're on the upswing; you can blame those post-workout endorphins for the temporary "I'm feeling better" rush after a sweat sesh. An occasional cough is a normal response to irritants or fluids in the body’s airways, and it helps keep the body healthy. On the other hand, if you are experiencing symptoms below your neck, like nausea, body aches, fever, diarrhea, productive cough or chest congestion, you may want to skip your workout until you feel better. During your first day of being sick, if the symptoms are minor like sore throat or cough, low intensity exercising is best. “You might as well go the mountains,” my coworker said. The Surprising Truth. This is because engaging in higher-intensity activity like running or a spin class temporarily suppresses the body’s immune response (19). For example, is the weight training some kind of low rep strength focused session where you’re going for si… When you have a fever, your body temperature rises above its normal range, which hovers around 98.6°F (37°C). If it’s associated with a fever or other symptoms like a productive cough or chest congestion, you should consider taking some time off from working out. That said, while exercising moderately can boost immunity, the opposite is also true. The activities you should avoid while sick are heavy strength training, endurance training, HIIT (high intensity interval training), sprinting, team sports, exercise in extreme temperatures. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, stomach cramping and decreased appetite are all common symptoms associated with stomach bugs. Even if we know it’s weight training or cardio, there are still a ton of possibilities for what might be taking place during those workouts. Working out while you’re feverish increases the risk of dehydration and can make a fever worse. Our ultimate job in sickness is to learn and grow from the setback, as we should any challenge in life. Resting and taking it easy is important when you're sick. In fact, working out has been shown to decrease the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, help keep weight in check and boost the immune system (1, 2, 3). Though exercise is likely safe when you have an earache, try to avoid exercises that put pressure on the sinus region. Download or print out this visual guide full of specifics for making exercise work for you before, during, and after an illness. Stress produces the hormone cortisol, and cortisol turns off the production of cytokines, the molecules that encourage an aggressive immune response. All rights reserved. It helps you recover faster and, frankly, gives your body the rest it needs. The flu causes symptoms like fever, chills, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, headache, cough and congestion. Whether you should exercise when you're sick depends on what your body is telling you. 1. For these reasons, it’s best to skip the gym when you have a fever. The flu? Exercising regularly may help you avoid getting sick in the first place. Your body is already trying to fight back against a nasty cold or … As a general guide for exercise and illness, consider this: Exercise is usually OK if your symptoms are all "above the neck." As symptoms subside, gradually begin introducing more physical activity into your day, being careful not to overdo it. study at the University of South Carolina, Effect of exercise training on the severity and duration of a viral upper respiratory illness, Moderate to vigorous physical activity and risk of upper- respiratory tract infection. Whether or not to work out when you're sick is an age-old dilemma. However, there’s certainly more to the question and this query requires a more in-depth analysis versus a simple short answer. A productive cough that brings up phlegm or sputum may be a sign of infection or another medical condition that requires rest and should be treated by a doctor (15). My workouts are my "me-time" — they keep me grounded, help me focus, and make me feel good. Exercise burns calories, but many people claim it doesn't help you lose weight. 7 Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout. That said, to stay healthy and safe when you’re sick, it is always best to listen to your body and follow your doctor’s advice. Although not every person who gets the flu will experience a fever, those who do are at an increased risk of dehydration, making working out a bad idea. Rest is super important if you are not well, and it might not be the best idea to work out when you’re sick. Many studies show that for most people, muscle loss begins after approximately three weeks without training, while strength starts to decline around the 10-day mark (22, 23, 24, 25). To be clear, do not exercise when sick with the flu. On what exactly? Learn about the best pre-workout nutrition strategies. Staying hydrated with cool water is a great way to soothe a sore throat during exercise so you can add activity into your day. Being sick happens to us sometimes. According to Thomas Weidner, head of athletic training at Ball State University, you should perform what’s called a neck check. Additionally, even though you may be feeling better, keep in mind that you might still be able to spread your illness to others. Healthline Media does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Check out these simple workouts and fun exercises that can be done at-home with makeshift or no equipment at all. By Madeline R. Vann, MPH Medically Reviewed by Lindsey … A couple of weeks ago, I started coming down with a nasty bug. The first five to seven days injury ( 14 ), gives your body to determine if you are for!, helping you breathe better ( 10 ) better ( 10 ) fun exercises can! Able to infect others with the flu up to a lesson learned learn and from. If symptoms persist throat, tooth infection or changes in pressure opinion, almost... Of coughing can be frustrating and uncomfortable at-home with makeshift or no equipment at all gradually introducing. To lose weight question and this query requires a more in-depth analysis a. 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