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Should You Exercise When You Are Sick

When you have a fever, a stubborn cough, or sore muscles, should you exercise? Working out when you are sick depends on the ailment you are dealing with, but it increases the risk of infecting other people. Should you train when you are sick? Well, it depends.

Nasal Congestion

You can exercise if you have nasal congestion as the workout can help open your nasal passages and improve your breathing. However, it is better to skip workout if your stuffy nose is because of a fever, chest congestion, cough, etc. Sometimes, you may only need to reduce the intensity of your workouts while nursing a stuffy nose.

It is important to use proper hygiene if you exercise with a runny nose. Use a hand sanitizer generously and wipe exercise equipment to prevent spreading the infection.

Mild Cold

A mild cold should allow you to continue working out. While symptoms of each individual will vary, most people can still hit the gym with a mild cold, although the intensity of the workout may be lower. Be sure to practise proper hygiene to avoid spreading your germs to other gym users. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often and carry a hand sanitizer always.

Ear or Throat Ache

If you have a sore throat or painful ear, you may still exercise. Throat and ear infections may be because of a viral infection or a symptom of another illness such as allergies or common cold; in that case, you can work out. However, if your ear or throat problem is because of fever or other serious health problems, skip exercise for a while.

As long as you have no serious symptoms, you should be able to work out with sickness that manifest above the chest.


If you have the flu, stop exercise until after you recover from the illness completely. The flu is a contagious disease.  You put many other people at risk if you work out in that condition. Working out with a flu infection can also compromise your immune system, delay recovery, and prevent you from working out for longer than if you had rested. It is best to rest and treat your flu before you resume workouts.


Fever elevates your body temperature beyond normal levels, leading to dehydration, fatigue, appetite loss, and muscle aches. It becomes difficult to work out in this condition as it lowers muscle strength, reduces coordination, increases injury risks and suppresses your immunity. Rest when you have fever so you can recover on time to continue working out at full blast.

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory issues such as persistent cough, chest pain, pneumonia, and others make breathing difficult, reducing the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream and decreasing your energy levels. In addition, coughing, sneezing and other symptoms of respiratory infections spread the germs fast, increasing the risk of infecting others who encounter the exercise equipment you use.

GI Tract Infections

If your symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps, loss of appetite, and other signs of digestive distress, it is better to stop exercising. GI tract infections lead to dehydration and weakness and are highly contagious. Wait until your stomach settles before engaging in rigorous physical exercise.


Your body is the ultimate decider of your ability to exercise when you are sick. If you feel you can exercise at high intensity in your ailing state, then go for it. If not, slow down and allow your body recuperate.