Exercising While Sick: Do or Don’t?

This morning I woke up sick. Full blown sore throat. Just the perfect thing to wake up to on my one day off a week. I hate getting sick, but I know that while I may feel under the weather it is no excuse to slack off on my health and fitness routine. So I popped some cough syrup and a large amount of water and went on my morning walk with my dog. This did get me thinking though about when I push through my sickness and when I take a much needed sick day from my normal exercise routine. There is definitely a time and place for both scenarios, so here are my quick tips on when, if and how you should exercise when sick.

  1. Determine How Sick You Really Are.
    1. This for me is the most important, because it determines how I go about the rest of my day. I define it as “Am I just a little stuffed up? Or would/should I go see the doctor because I feel feverish and nauseous? Or can I even make it from the bed to the bathroom without using all my energy?” If I feel like I would say yes to going to the doctor or know that just moving around is getting tough, then I take the day off to allow my body to rest. If popping an Advil or taking some lemon and honey might do the trick, I will still get my workout in that day. But be your own judge and listen to your own body.
  2. If you are exercising, choose what feels good to you.
    1. Sick days I feel like are the perfect days to just do what feels good. The main focus becomes moving my body, not striving for PB’s. If I am feeling stuffed up, I tend towards just going for a long walk or doing a light weights session. Something that lets me breath! (The one time I tried to do a HIIT workout with a stuffed nose and sore throat was not pretty.) So choose your favourite weight exercises, do some yoga, or simple move in your favourite way.
  3. Consider others before heading to the gym/class.
    1. It might be a good day for an at home workout. Being in a class with someone who is constantly coughing and sneezing is distracting, plus you can pass on whatever you have to others especially if you are sharing equipment. Do you really want to be that person? Plus, if for any reason you need the bathroom urgently, the one at home is more often then not nicer/cleaner/less chance of being occupied when you need it most. (Speaking from experience here.) If you can’t work out at home, try going for a walk outdoors or doing your workout in the park.
  4. Drink lots of fluids during your workout.
    1. Staying hydrated is important, more so when your body is working overtime. Drink plenty of water or un-sweeten teas both during and after your workout. While I don’t believe you need to drink a certain number of liters a day, I know that keeping my throat from getting dry while sick goes a long way to making me feel better. So keep that water bottle handy!
  5. Listen to your body.
    1. I’ve started a workout while sick, gotten halfway through it, felt like I had zero energy, and decided to move onto my stretching routine right then and there. It is not worth running your body down even more to get in a few more reps while sick. Sometimes trying to sweat it out helps, sometimes it makes it worse. Listen and care for yourself. It is easier to take one or two days off now then push through and end up taking off 2 weeks down the road. Be kind, be patient, and be real with yourself.

Do you solider on no matter how you feel or do you take a sick day ever once in a while? Let me know in the comments down below?

Happy Sick Day!


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About the Author : benpink