Sticking to a weekly exercise routine feels great, doesn’t it? When you get into that mindset, it’s pretty easy to stick to your schedule week by week. But what happens when something throws off your workout groove? What if you happen to get sick along the way?
A lot of people use illness to stop working out altogether. It starts with taking a sick break from your schedule… and then dropping the schedule altogether. That alone does worry people about whether they’ll be able to continue their workout routine if they fall ill.
So can you workout when you’re sick? In this article, we’re going to explore some reasons why it’s best to sit out when you’re sick… and why some forms of exercise may make you feel better.
Should You Exercise When You’re Feeling Under the Weather?
Illness affects people in different ways. But a lot of people treat illness as an opportunity to sit on the sidelines and recover. Even if it costs them a regular workout routine in the process. But some people do continue exercising, even when they feel a little under the weather.
In most cases, it’s suggested to sit out your exercise routine if you’re sick, particularly if you’re experiencing fever symptoms. Working out may raise your internal body temperature past its already heightened state, which can compromise your body’s condition and even make you sicker.
If you just have a slight cold, a little exercise can help you feel better, but know your limits. You might want to take a brisk walk or even walk around your home to help stir circulation throughout your body. But if you don’t feel too well, it’s better to stay put and rest. If you have sinus issues, it’s also recommended to sit out exercise, since you might have trouble breathing. You don’t want to workout and have difficulty breathing, which can potentially compromise your health.
- If you have symptoms ‘above the neck,’ such as sore throat, sneezing, tearing eyes and/or nasal congestion, light exercise like walks may help.
- If you have ‘below the neck’ symptoms like fever, fatigue, body aches and/or coughing, it’s best to stay in bed.
What If Your Symptoms Sideline You For Weeks?
If you’re out for more than a few days, don’t panic. It’s easy to get used to exercising on a regular basis again, but do note that it does take effort on your part. Start with light exercise and then work your way back to the schedule you previously followed before falling sick.
What To Do If You Exercise When Sick
If you’re just feeling a little under the weather, a little exercise can help boost your body’s intrinsic defenses and feed off the illness. It’s said that just 30 minutes of regular exercise, at least three to four times a week, can help bolster your body’s immunity by boosting its T cell levels—one of the body’s built-in defense mechanisms.
So if you want to get out of the house and head to the gym, what should you do? If you do decide to workout get about 30 minutes worth of exercise at the gym, remember these tips:
- Avoid contact with public surfaces. Put a towel down on surfaces that you may touch, such as treadmill handrails.
- Wash your hands when you can. Before and after you workout, wash your hands, especially if you blow your nose or touch your face. You should also keep around hand sanitizer (even when you’re not sick) to kill germs that may be on your hands.
- Take your time. If you feel like you need to rest, take a rest. You can always go back home if you don’t want to continue for the day.
If you’re planning to stay at home and workout, don’t forget these tips, either:
- Don’t work too hard. When you’re sick, it’s pretty easy to overexert yourself to the point of feeling ill all over again. So if you’re planning to workout, do less reps. If you’re just walking around the house, walk for about 30 minutes instead of a whole hour.
- Avoid exercising with fever. If you’re symptoms are more like a fever than a cold, take time to rest and get better. You can actually aggravate your fever symptoms if you decide to workout.
- Move around if you need to. Sometimes, staying in bed all day doesn’t do anything to help our bodies recover. Take a moment to walk around, even for a few minutes, to give your body a bit of exercise before you lie back down again.
It’s not impossible to workout when you’re sick. Even taking 30 minutes out of your day to walk around counts as an ‘easy workout’ when you’re under the weather. But remember one thing: if you do have fever symptoms, stay in bed. It’s not worth the risk if you can’t do the work.