Is it beneficial to exercise when sick?

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 2 months ago

When you're following a regular exercise routine and suddenly get hit by a cold or flu, it can be difficult to decide whether to continue exercising or take a break. According to experts, the answer depends on the severity of your illness. If you have a fever, it's best to skip the gym or any physical activity that may raise your body temperature further. Exercising with a fever can make you even sicker.

Dr. Lewis G. Maharam, a sports medicine expert, advises people to do what they can do and not push themselves if they're feeling unwell. Most fit individuals tend to feel worse when they stop exercising, but if you're unable to even lift your head off the pillow due to flu symptoms, it's best to rest.

Geralyn Coopersmith, a personal trainer, suggests knowing your limits and adjusting your exercise intensity accordingly. If you're feeling slightly unwell, it's generally safe to engage in light workouts. However, if you experience bronchial tightness or have symptoms below the neck like coughing, body aches, and fatigue, it's advisable to refrain from exercising until these symptoms subside.

Dr. Neil Schachter, a medical director, recommends a "neck check" to determine the level of activity during a respiratory illness. If your symptoms are above the neck, such as a sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, and tearing eyes, you can exercise. However, if your symptoms are below the neck, like coughing, body aches, fever, and fatigue, it's best to give your body rest.

Regular exercise can actually boost your body's natural defenses against illness and infection. It's been shown to raise immunity by increasing levels of T cells, which are the body's first line of defense against infections. However, intense and prolonged training sessions can lower immunity, so moderation is key.

If you do choose to exercise while sick, it's important to take precautions to prevent spreading your illness to others. Washing your hands regularly, especially before and after using the restroom, before meals, and after using public transportation, is crucial. Additionally, carrying alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel can be helpful when in contact with someone who is sneezing or coughing.

Ultimately, it's important to listen to your body and prioritize rest and recovery when needed. Consulting with a healthcare professional is always advised, especially if you're unsure about your ability to exercise while sick.


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