Should You Work Out When You're Sick?

I. Feel. Crappy :(

Between working with 80 8th graders, my boyfriend, and various others being sick I have finally caught a bug. It sucks! Congestion, tired body and a cough can really wear you out. The most unfortunate thing, I think, is that I'm getting sick as my leg is FINALLY becoming completely (or close to) healed. It has felt better today and yesterday than it has in two months. I'm thrilled I can start getting back into my regular routine but I think I'm going to wait it off juuuust a little longer with my cold.

There are a lot of different opinions on whether you should work out when you're sick or not.  I think it's pretty easy to spot the fact that if you have the flu, are vomiting, have diarrhea or something more serious like mono, uh duh you need to be resting. The trickiness comes into play with head colds and the like. How sick is too sick? How long should you wait for your body to recover? 

I've looked up information on this numerous times and wanted to share some of what I have found, because sharing information is like my favorite thing ever! (occupational hazard). I think this is a very important topic to touch on, not only because I'm sick right now and want to work out, but because this is definitely the cold and flu season and knowing when to give your body a rest is essential in overall health and sickness recovery. The sites I found the info from will be at the bottom if you want more!!

1) Figure out what you're dealing with. 
Cold and sniffles? It's probably OK to work out. Fever? Make friends with the couch. The general rule is if you're sick from the neck up, it's OK to hit the gym. That includes sore throat, congestion, runny nose, headache, etc. Sickness from the neck down requires rest and relaxation, including a cough, fever, and fatigue. If you have a fever, working out can cause your body temperature to rise and also can make your body more sore. 

2) Listen to your body- and know your limits. 
Nasal congestion is sickness from the neck up, so technically you should be OK to work out, probably at a low intensity level. But if you're so congested you can barely breathe, talk, smell, or taste anything, and you have a headache, maybe you need to rest. If you know your body needs rest no matter what type of sickness you have, laying off exercise is probably the best bet. I have gone through trial and error with head colds and working out and know that when I am even a little sick, like I am now, working out tends to prolong my sickness, even if it is from the neck up. The only exception to that is headaches for me! When I have a migraine, rest is needed, but with a regular headache, working out actually tends to get rid of those. However, everyone's body is different and has different needs. If you just don't feel well enough to exercise, or if you're exhausted and just want to lay down, listen to your body.

3) Take care of yourself- and others!
Anytime your'e sick, rest and liquids is usually recommended, and for many of us, medication. Figure out the proper medicine and dosage to take to avoid getting sicker or prolonging your ailness. If you do decide to go to the gym, help prevent others from getting sick. Wipe your machines, mats, and equipment down thoroughly with the spray provided at all gyms. Use hand sanitizer between stations and machines. Wash your hands!! All of these will help prevent spreading your cold.

Hopefully these tips helped you out and helped you decide whether you should head to the gym today or stay in bed. As for me, I'll be back tomorrow morning with a recipe and then off to San Diego on Friday, cold or no cold!! Have a fantastic day, guys :)


  1. OMG HOW OBNOXIOUS! When it's not one thing, it's another thing - UGH! At least you know sickness is temporary! Whenever I get sick, I definitely work out. I tell myself that I will be able to rest for the rest of the day, and it works :) Then I can just binge on TV and rest up so my cold can go away!

  2. Feel better!!! I find going for walks always helps but anything more always makes me feel worse which is a nice excuse to lounge around and do nothing!

  3. I totally hear you, I was dealing with the same dilemma when I had a crappy cold last week. I worked out but definitely listened to my body and took it easier than usual. It's hard to do high intensity cardio when you can't breathe through your nose!! ;-)

    Have fun in San Diego!!

    -Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness

  4. I hope you feel better soon! I'm such a germaphob! I totally go around sanitizing all winter long. I work out only if it's above the chest level and I don't feel like I'm totally going to die just doing normal activities.