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Should You Workout When Sick?

Should You Workout When Sick?
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Deciding whether to stick to your workout routine when you’re feeling under the weather can be a tough choice. On one hand, regular exercise is a pillar of good health, contributing to everything from mood regulation to immune system support. On the other, pushing your body too hard when it’s already fighting off an illness could potentially do more harm than good.

In this article, we’ll explore the balance between maintaining an active lifestyle and listening to your body’s needs when sick, dissecting common scenarios and providing scientific insights to help you make the best possible decisions for your health.

Is it Better to Rest or Exercise When Sick?

The age-old question “Should I force myself to exercise when sick?” often arises during flu season or when we feel under the weather. The answer, however, isn’t straightforward and can depend on the nature and severity of the illness.

Generally, for mild common colds, light to moderate physical activities like walking can actually be beneficial. These exercises can boost your mood and immune response without overexerting your body.

On the other hand, if your symptoms are below the neck, such as chest congestion, a hacking cough, upset stomach, or fever, rest is strongly advised. Engaging in intense physical activities under these conditions can worsen your symptoms and delay your recovery.

What Type of Exercise Is OK When You’re Sick?

While it’s often best to rest when ill, some light exercises can be beneficial in certain situations. Here are a few gentle activities you can consider doing if you’re battling a mild illness:

  • Walking: Low-intensity walks, ideally in quiet, green spaces, can help you feel better without overexerting you.
  • Stretching: Gentle stretching can relieve stiffness and improve your sense of well-being.
  • Yoga: Choose a restorative yoga routine that focuses on relaxation and deep breathing rather than intense poses.
  • Tai Chi: This slow, meditative exercise can help you maintain your mobility and balance.

It’s crucial to listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard when you’re sick. Always consult a healthcare provider if you’re unsure whether exercise is safe for you.

Can You Sweat Out a Cold with Exercise?

Can You Sweat Out a Cold with Exercise?

Attempting to “sweat out” a cold by engaging in intense exercise is a common practice. However, it lacks scientific backing. While moderate physical activity can boost your immune system and potentially help fight off colds, overexerting yourself when you’re already ill can lead to worse symptoms and a longer recovery period.

How Long Should You Wait to Exercise After Being Sick?

The answer as to when you should resume your exercise regimen after an illness depends on the type and severity of the sickness you’ve experienced. For mild conditions like a common cold, you can resume light to moderate exercise as soon as your symptoms are mostly resolved, which is typically within a few days.

However, for more serious illnesses, especially those involving fever, respiratory issues, or fatigue, it’s crucial to wait until you have been symptom-free for at least a few days. For conditions like the flu or COVID-19, extending your recovery period before resuming intense exercise is wise.

Does Exercise Help You from Getting Sick?

Exercise can help prevent illness by boosting the immune system. Regular exercise has been proven to improve the circulation of immune cells in your body, making it quicker and more efficient at detecting and fighting off pathogens. Furthermore, physical activity can reduce stress levels, which is beneficial since chronic stress can weaken the immune system.

While intense exercise without proper rest can temporarily weaken the immune system, moderate activities such as brisk walking, cycling, and swimming are beneficial for maintaining overall health and potentially reducing the frequency and severity of infections.

Work with a Personal Trainer from the Sanctuary

Working with a personal trainer from the Sanctuary offers a personalized fitness experience designed to meet your individual needs and goals. Our certified trainers boast a deep understanding of nutrition, wellness, and fitness, and their holistic approach will ensure that you receive the comprehensive guidance you need to achieve your goals.

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle, or simply improve your overall health, our trainers are equipped with the knowledge and tools to help you do so in a supportive, judgment-free environment.

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