Feeling ill can get in the way of your exercise schedule. Even if you exercise regularly five times a week, you may feel like taking a break once you’re sick. Should I work out when I’m sick? Should I keep going to the gym or work out at home when I don’t feel well? What if I lose all of the progress I’ve made or don’t feel like going back to the gym after I get better?
These are questions you’ll probably ask yourself, and the temptation to work out may be strong, but you might not be sure about how healthy that would be for you. You might be concerned about losing your motivation to work out and to recover from your illness. You may know how easy it is to give up on a healthy habit when you’ve taken a break from it for a little while. This is a legitimate concern to have, but should you be concerned about your health and the effect of working out on your health? Should I rest from workout when I’m sick?
Let’s talk about this issue and what you need to know about trying to work out and staying healthy when you’re not well.
Your Body Needs Rest
I’d like to preface the rest of this article with the statement that when you’re sick, rest is the best way to get better. Whether you’re suffering from a cold, flu, infection, fever, or most other common illnesses, getting plenty of bed rest is the best thing you can do for your sickness.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s going to take you longer to get better. Your body is fighting a war on whatever is harming it. Your antibodies are in full force, your body is trying to heal and recuperate, and with all of that going on internally, that means you will be weak. Should I work out when I’m feeling weak and sick?
Above all, your consideration needs to be whether you’re helping yourself get better or making things worse. Are you causing your body to take longer to heal, or are you helping the healing process by what you’re doing?
By not getting enough rest, you could be harming your body more. You could be making it difficult for your body to rejuvenate and replenish itself while you’re sick. You can open yourself up to further infection and illness, and you could slow the body’s healing process. This is why it’s so important to get plenty of rest when you’re sick. Maybe you can get enough rest and work out at the same time. The viability of that is going to depend on a few different factors, but it is very important that you understand how essential rest is to your recovery.
Are There Times Where Working Out Is okay when Sick?
With all of that said about rest, let’s talk about if it’s ever okay to hit the gym when you’re not feeling well. If you know you’re sick with something, whether it’s a flu, fever, or cold, you understand that you need bed rest and medication. You may still have a desire to go to the gym and work out for a while. You don’t want to lose those gains, pack on weight, experience muscle loss, or feel like you’re starting over after your sickness.
That’s all understandable, but the question of “Should I work out when I’m sick?” remains.
There are times when you’re sick and working out may be okay. For instance, if you have a light cold and your symptoms are not serious, then it should be okay to work out a little bit. With something like a fever, though, you definitely don’t want to go to the gym. Any serious illness necessitates bed rest, and you should wait to work out until you’re better.
Even with a light sickness like a summer cold, you do need to be careful about how hard you push yourself. Your body is trying to fight the infection, and it needs a lot of rest in order to do that. Pay attention to your body’s signals that you’re not getting enough rest and that you need more. If you’re feeling overly tired while working out, like your energy has left, then you should rest. When you’re sick, it’s more important than ever to listen to what your body is telling you and pay attention to the warning signals that it provides.
To recap, it’s okay to workout sometimes when you’re sick, but only if the sickness is minor and only if you’re feeling up to it. As soon as you start to feel very unwell, you need to stop working out and let your body rest. Other indicators you should pay attention to when you’re working out and not well are overheating, fever symptoms, gasping for breath, and muscle soreness. All of these are indicators that you’re not up to working out and you need to rest yourself.
Should I Work Out when I’m Getting Sick?
So, we’ve established that it’s usually best not to work out when you’re sick, but what about when you’re just starting to become sick. When you start to notice those symptoms like a sore throat, a cough, or sneeze, but you feel mostly well, is it okay to work out?
This is a valid question and one that needs to be addressed. If your symptoms are mild, you may be inclined to work out because you feel good enough to do that. However, these symptoms can indicate a serious illness is coming on. That means your body is going into defensive mode, sending out white blood cells and lymphocytes to protect you. This is a key part of the healing process, and you need to be careful about what kind of activity you’re doing at this time.
If you push yourself too hard and working out when you know you’re starting to get sick, you can make the illness worse. You can slow down the healing process and make it harder for your body to do its job of protecting you. In other words, it’s probably not a great idea to work out when you know sickness is coming on. That’s time when you need to take it easy, pull back, and prepare to rest up.
What I would suggest for someone who is just starting to become sick and those worried about how those symptoms may develop but is also worried about their workout team is that they work out lightly. Instead of doing your full routine, whatever that may be, perhaps cut it in half or third. Just do a little working out and a little exercise so that you maintain your gains, but don’t push yourself too hard.
Getting your heart rate up is good for you it can be healthy for your heart, but you have to be careful about how long you keep that heart rate up for. A 10-minute workout session is probably appropriate for someone who’s just starting to get sick, but you do need to gauge your body’s symptoms. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and don’t push yourself further than you feel comfortable going.
As you keep all of this in mind, the best advice I can give you is to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help assess your symptoms and will know your overall health situation better than anyone. If you’re concerned about losing muscle gains, losing motivation for your workout, or pushing yourself too hard when you’re sick, your doctor may be able to provide expert advice that will give you the answers you’re looking for.
Don’t worry too much about working out when you’re sick. You’ll have time to get back to that after you’re all better. If you don’t push yourself too hard and you get plenty of rest when you’re sick, you should get better faster and be able to get back to working out sooner. So, there’s advantages to resting up and letting your body do what it needs to in order to heal.