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Is It Better To Rest Or Exercise When Sick?

The body of a fit individual can easily adapt to increased stress especially when the body fights with various bacteria, viruses and other germs. With time, as the immune system becomes stronger and the body gets immune to such allergens the chances of contracting these infections becomes less and less. However, sometimes everyone does fall sick with a cough or a cold, especially in seasons which are conducive to such conditions. When an individual falls sick, the already stressed body finds it tough to handle extra stress of a tough workout. This puts a doubt in the individual’s mind whether to exercise when sick or not [1]. Various research conducted on this issue suggest that there is no reason for an individual to stay away from any exercise due to cold and flu symptoms. As long as the individual is not bedridden due to the symptoms, they can definitely do some low impact exercises like cycling or walking. In fact, studies suggest that these low impact exercises boost immunity and allow the symptoms to calm down much faster, as there is little stress put on the body due to these exercises. This is the reason why many physicians recommend low intensity cardio exercises when having a cold [1]. Studies also suggest that these exercises if done outside of the house at many times result in relief of symptoms. However, when it comes to high intensity workouts like lifting heavy weights will squeeze off the little energy that is left and will make an individual feeling sicker. This article gives a brief guideline as to what to do and not to do when it comes to exercising when sick [1].

Is It Better To Rest Or Exercise When Sick?

It is well known that exercise is of paramount importance when it comes to staying fit and healthy. However, there are times when the body demands a break for the normal exercise routine. This happens especially when an individual is down with a cough or a cold. This is the time when the body indicates that it is not able to handle the extra stress of exercise [2]. Exercising or not when sick depends on the type of the condition and the severity of it. The body utilizes more energy to function when it is sick. As an example, people with a cardiac problem may be at risk if they exercise with a cold or flu. The same goes for people who are diabetic. If a diabetic falls sick then his or her blood sugar levels fluctuate during exercising requiring the need to monitor their sugar levels more carefully. Thus, physicians recommend consulting with a physician on whether or not to exercise when sick if an individual has an indwelling medical condition [2]. However, if the individual is perfectly healthy and just suffers from a sore throat or a cough or cold then it is okay to do some low impact exercises till the time the symptoms resolve. Physicians state that if an individual is sick but still wants to exercise then it is always better to listen to the body and do only as much as the body can handle. It should be expected that the energy levels will be down when an individual is sick compared to when they are not and thus they will not be able to exercise the way they do when they are not sick [2]. An individual should refrain from any high impact exercise if he or she has body pains, fever, diarrhea, or chest congestion with difficulty breathing. It is also essential for people with a cough or a cold to not share their towels or clothing with other members of the family or gym mates. After completely recovering from the illness, it is important to get to the exercise routine in a slow and phased manner [2]. Even if the individual is not able to complete the exercise routine there is nothing to be upset about as it takes a while for the body to get back to the normal routine. It is vital to listen to the body and do only what can be easily tolerable by the body to prevent tweaking any part of the body which will cause more pain [2]. In conclusion, whether to exercise or not when sick depends on the severity of the condition. An individual can do low impact exercises if he or she has a cough or a cold like cycling or walking. Many physicians recommend low impact cardio for people who have coughs and colds as it is believed to boost the overall immunity and help an individual; recover faster [1, 2]. However, people with underlying medical conditions like cardiovascular illness or diabetes should avoid any exercises when having any infection for fear of complicating the indwelling illness. Thus, as long as the individual does not have any fever, muscle pain, or any indwelling medical condition it is okay to perform light exercises even when you are sick with minor infections like a cough or a cold [1, 2].


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 17, 2019

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