Every year I take precautions, but every year around the beginning of December, I get sick. When you are sick, even with just cold, tasks like getting out of bed, going to work and, especially, working out all seem incredibly tiring and become low priorities. If you are trying to stick to an exercise routine, getting sick can really throw you off track. Plus it can be hard to start again. So the best solution may be to work out. It is safe to work out when you’re sick?
Research shows that working out when you’re under the weather is usually fine.
Here are some guidelines for exercising when you are feeling under the weather:
- When you’re debating if you should take extra rest time, or sweat it out at the gym, the “above the neck” rule is a good one to follow.
- Exercise is typically OK if your symptoms are all “above the neck.” This includes symptoms you may have with a common cold, such as a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, or a minor sore throat.
- If symptoms are “below the neck,” such as aches and pains, chills, upset stomach, chest congestion or a hacking cough, take some time for rest and recovery.
- Never exercise with a fever, widespread muscles aches, or fatigue.
- Be mindful of medicine. Some cold medicines can increase your heart rate. Be careful when exercising while taking these medications. The combo of a cold and exercise could cause shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
- Take it easy in terms of time and the intensity of your workouts. If you usually run for 45 minutes, try walking for 25 or 30 minutes.
- Listen to your body! If you have the energy, have mild symptoms, and are fever-free, go ahead and work out. Don’t be afraid to take it easy and give your body some rest. “Sweating it out” actually does not help get rid of a cold. Rest and staying hydrated are important in helping you get better.
- Be considerate of others. If you do choose to exercise with a cold, consider doing a home workout and avoiding the gym. Would you want to get on a treadmill after someone with a cough and runny nose just got off? If you can’t bear to skip the gym, make sure to use tissues and hand sanitizer and always wipe off the machines when you’re finished using them.