Should You Exercise When Sick?

One friend told me to exercise while sick to get rid of the cold more quickly. Another said that doing so would make it worse. I should have walking, mountain climbing, wadi, hiking trail, desert hikeresearched this ahead of time. I had a cold for three days, and it seemed to be getting better. I decided to go to the gym and jog on the treadmill. I ended up getting 10 times worse and developing bronchitis, fatigue, and other symptoms lasting three weeks.

So, did working out really cause things to get worse, or was I going to get worse anyway?

What do the experts have to say about exercising while sick?

Mayo Clinic  and Prevention advise to reduce the intensity of your exercise program and keep on doing it, as long as your symptoms are above the neck (sinus congestion, sore throat) and no fever. On the other hand, they say to avoid working out if you have fever or symptoms below the neck (chest congestion, fatigue, weakness). They recommend resuming your routine gradually as you start to feel better.

WebMD says basically the same things but says if your temperature is 101 degrees or more (or you have below the neck symptoms) to not workout.

A CNN article on exercising while sick sites the “neck rule” but adds that if your above the neck symptoms are very severe to refrain from working out.

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What about resuming activity after illness?

I started feeling better after my three week illness. The first day of not feeling like I could not even lift my arms (and not being winded to walk across the apartment) I decided I could handle a trip to Wal-Mart. I did all right but did get a bit winded walking out to the car. The second day, I parked close to my daughter’s school to pick her up and walked about ¼ mile each way. Again, winded. The third day I really started feeling better. My husband and I went out to our jogging trail. I fast walked the 1.8 mile loop and felt great! Am I ready to start running again? says that a person should wait a few days after a cold but 2-4 weeks to resume intensive exercise after the flu (or illnesses involving extreme fatigue, fever, and muscle weakness).

I guess I need to make sure I do not overdo it.

What are your thoughts and experiences with exercising while sick or resuming exercise after an illness?


See also:

Taking Care of Their Hearts


4 thoughts on “Should You Exercise When Sick?

  1. I have been feeling under the weather all week. Phlegm has been irritating my throat, which has caused me to cough excessively.

    My coworkers and families have recommended to rest a lot. I have done that, but I do not want to rest anymore. Aside from my raspy voice and coughing, I feel fine. I did feel fatigue, but I think it was due to full-time work, part-time school and lack of sleep.

    If you have a cough or cold, I believe you should be able to exercise, but not as intensively. For example, this week I have been going on walks instead of running. I am starting to get better so I plan to go for a short run tomorrow morning. Of course, if you have a fever then you should rest completely. My rule of thumb is to be fever free for 24 hours without medication before going out for a short walk.

    Everybody is different so do what is best for your body. It can even change as your body matures or your stress level.

  2. Pingback: Can Exercise Improve My Memory? | Delana's World

  3. Pingback: Are You Taking Care of Their Hearts? | The Education Cafe

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