Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?

by Henry Gould – Nov 13th, 2019

I wanted to say it’s an age-old question (“Should you exercise when you’re sick?”) but in reality, our cultural obsession with health and fitness is regularly new, so perhaps the question isn’t age-old but decades old. Still, collectively I would say an obsession with our health is a good thing, so being dedicated enough to ponder pushups with a cold is at least a worthwhile question to ask!

So, should you exercise when you’re sick?

This article from a doctor in Men’s Health makes a good argument for working out depending on “above the neck, below the neck” sickness.

  • Above the neck
    • Stuffed up
    • Sneezing
    • Sore throat

Chances are with symptoms like this it’s a common cold, and depending on your workout schedule prior to this, a workout is likely no problem. That being said, it’s important to recognize if your workout is going to help fight the sickness, or make it worse. More on that below…

If your sickness symptoms are:

  • Below the neck
    • Coughing
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fever
    • Chest tightness
    • Nausea, vomiting, diarhhea

That’s when it’s time to 100% cancel your Yard Athletics JUNK YARD workout class and stay home. Not only are you going to make it much harder on your immune system to fight the bug, you’re putting others in jeopardy for getting sick.

A few weeks ago we talked about overtraining and the effect it can have on the body and the immune system. Often times, training too hard without giving the body time to rest will lower your immune function. You can’t repair torn muscle without rest, so if the body is constantly being told to repair something it can’t, the immune system is going to start slacking.

Therefore, it’s important to look at training while sick as a risk / reward. If you’ve been training 5-6 days a week in the gym, as well as other activities, perhaps the sickness is a sign you’ve been overdoing it and need a break.

If you’re feeling like it’s been a week of too many 20oz curls (i.e. beer drinking) and not enough 20lb curls, and your coworker probably got you sick from blowing their nose in the break room, then maybe a workout would do you good even if you’re stuffed up.

Remember, when you’re sick, wash your hands. Please…!

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