Should I Exercise When I’m Sick?

Melbourne Personal Trainer | Should I Exercise When Sick?Should I Exercise When I’m Sick?

Short answer: No
Long answer: Maybe

At the moment, most of my clients have been sick with a cold or felt very run down. It was only a matter of time before I caught something too – and I think I got everything all at once! So I thought it would be timely to write about training when you’re sick.

When the cooler months are upon us, so is Cold and Flu Season, so now is the time to make sure you are eating super nutritious food to do your best to avoid getting sick.

If you do get sick, you may still be able to exercise, depending on what you’ve got. The general rule out there is if it’s above the neck, then you can still exercise, possibly at a lower intensity. And if it’s below the neck (fever, nausea etc) then you shouldn’t exercise. Let’s take a look at the above the neck situations.

Firstly, you must always listen to your body. If you don’t feel well enough to train, then absolutely do not push it.

I have a lot of clients that like to push themselves hard, including when they’re not well. If you are like this, then you’re going to have to learn to back off. Remember that a period of rest is great for your body. This is when super-compensation kicks in, so when you get back to training, your muscles will be stronger than where you left off.

  • If you are too sick to go to work (and I don’t mean, you have a few sick days up your sleeve, so you decide to take a sick day even if you feel fine enough to work) then you are too sick to exercise.
  • If you have been sleeping all day, but want to get up to exercise, then you are too sick to exercise. Don’t feel guilty for not exercising, and don’t pressure yourself into getting your training done when you know you’ll be better off lying down.
  • If you feel dizzy when you stand up, then you are too sick to exercise.
  • If the thought of going for a 10 minute walk seems daunting, then you are too sick to exercise.

Get the idea? Basically, if you know that you are better off lying down than doing your regular daily activities, then you are too sick to exercise.

So when could you exercise?

  • Melbourne Personal Trainer | Should I Exercise When I'm Sick?I have some clients that absolutely swear by a cardio session to help clear a cold. Not something too intense. Perhaps a short light run, or 20 minutes of bodyweight exercises, or a bike ride. This has occasionally helped me in the past, and if you just have the sniffles, it can sometimes help clear your nose a bit.
  • If your cold is really mild then you can probably still exercise. You may need to modify things if your breathing is not as good as usual, or if you tire faster, or if you have a runny nose you won’t want to do anything with your head facing down.
  • If you feel generally run down, then perhaps some light exercise will pick you up a bit. In this case, cancelling your training session might not be a good idea. Instead, modify it so you are doing some light activity to get the blood flowing a bit more, and to get your body feeling nice and mobile could be just what you need to feel better again.

Do you see a pattern here? Basically, if you are not feeling great, but not bad enough to stop your general daily activities, then you can probably still exercise.

Always exercise caution, and listen to your body. Stop if something makes you feel worse. And consider a totally different workout to what you had planned to help you feel better. If you have a personal trainer, ask them to modify the session for you so you feel rejuvenated instead of exhausted.

What do you think? Do you exercise when you’re sick? Or do you take time off? What works best for you?

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