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Should I still workout when I’m sick?

Making the DecisionStriking the right balance for maintaining self-care when you’re feeling under-the-weather can be tricky. Here are a few considerations to help you make the call.

When illness strikes, first and foremost, make an appointment with your doctor either live or via videochat or call if that’s an option for you. It’s always good to keep your healthcare provider looped in so that you can get help quickly if things get serious. If illness is serious or ongoing, get clearance from your doctor before resuming your workout routine. The following tips are not intended to replace medical advice.

  • Do you have a fever? If so, stay home. You’re better off with rest than exercise if fever is one of your symptoms. You are also highly contagious at this time and could easily spread what you’ve got to your fellow gym-goers, staff, and instructors. Your trainer will be grateful to you for both making the best choice for your own health and for being considerate of hers.
  • You threw-up or feel like you’re about to throw-up. Nope. Hard no on heading to the gym.
  • You woke up with a painful sore throat. Skip the workout today. It’s possible that the sore throat will resolve quickly but it’s also possible that this could be a sign of an infection (like strep) and pushing your body might complicate and make matters worse. Sip some hot tea and make an appointment with your doctor if the sore throat continues through the day or beyond.
  • The sore throat is gone but your cough wakes you up half the night... Sleep deprivation may increase your chance of injury due to decreased alertness and reaction time so it’s best not to do a fast-paced or heavy weights class until you’re rested enough to focus on maintaining good form. If you’re up for it, take a brisk walk or make some dedicated time to stretch and foam roll at home. If you’re not coughing anymore and just fatigued you could also try a hatha yoga class, which can be challenging but moves at a slower pace, giving you more time to think about each movement and adjust as needed.
  • You’ve had this cold for over a week and are mostly better but have a few lingering symptoms… If you’re sleeping regularly again and able to breath normally with exertion but just have a few lingering sniffles chances are you’re ok to get moving and might even feel better than if you remain stiff all day.  Be mindful of how you’re feeling and give yourself permission to push to less than maximum effort. Make an extra effort to drink water and wash your hands before and after touching equipment. Also avoid touching your face and wash your hands after blowing your nose… in this case, sharing is not caring.