Do I Exercise When I Am Sick?

Do I Exercise When I Am Sick?

This is a very common question any time of the year. When you have a cold, flu or some other illness that is either just starting or seemingly about over and you have already missed some exercise – and you really want to work out, but aren’t sure – what do you do?

This is my philosophy on this after over a decade of being an athlete and having experienced many times of pushing my body’s limits while being sick or just getting sick or just getting over an illness.

1. If you are starting to feel a cold coming on (or know that someone in your household or workplace is sick) – it is best to lighten up on the exercise first and foremost. Drink lots of water, get your Vitamin C, get your rest and see what happens in 24 hours. Cut back your exercise either in half (normal time is 60 minutes, cut back to 30) and/or cut back on the intensity (go nice and easy, don’t push it past moderate activity level).

2. If you have a cold in your head/chest/sinuses and you feel tired, run down – stop exercise completely. Exception to that might be gentle vinyasa flow yoga or light stretching. Rest up. Meditate. Eat/drink clean and well.

3. If, after a few days, you start feeling better and your cold is only in your head/sinuses (anything above your neck), it is okay to return back to following #1 above. Ease back into your workouts – don’t go full pedal to the medal just yet. If you exercise and it feels painful or you still feel low on the energy scale -maybe just walk, do yoga or stretch. “Sweating it out” is not necessarily the answer. You may revert your illness and get more sick or another illness.

I hope this helps – you (and only you) can figure out what is best for your body over time. I always say err on the side of caution and be conservative -it is better to rest an extra day than to come back one day too soon and end up back on the couch!

Lastly, if you are sick for a week or more, don’t worry about losing any fitness – you will be just fine. Chances are your body needed the rest!

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