Can You Work Out When You’re Sick?

Nothing can stop you from sticking to your New Year’s fitness goals – until you get sick. But is sickness a reason to skip your trip to the gym? Check out our guide for determining if you can work out when you’re sick.

If you have a fever, you’ll want to avoid exercising.

When You Have a Cold

As long as you don’t have a fever, you’ve got the green light to work out. In fact, exercise can improve immune function and even lead to a quicker recovery. Keep in mind, however, that cold symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose might make cardio activities a nuisance. Stick to lower-impact, soothing exercises like a powerwalk or yoga and stay away from the gym if you’re still contagious – cold germs can live on equipment for hours.

When it’s a Stomach Virus

Stomach viruses often include symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea that can severely dehydrate the body. Breaking a sweat by working out adds to that dehydration, so you’ll want to avoid working out. Stomach viruses like norovirus (known colloquially as the cruise ship virus) are highly contagious, so stay away from any gym equipment or group fitness classes. Instead, choose plenty of fluids, and if you do feel like moving, aim for gentle stretching that can help soothe muscle aches.

If it’s the Flu

The short answer? Avoid exercise. Here’s why: fever and vomiting – two common flu symptoms – can cause dehydration, which you won’t want to exacerbate by working out. Exercise can also raise your temperature to a dangerous level when coupled with an existing fever, which may put you at risk for myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. Though this isn’t common, it’s a major reason to avoid exercise and opt for rest instead.

Even after your fever is gone, symptoms like a stuffy nose and muscle aches might persist for days. Once you’re feeling better, remember that your body might not be ready high-intensity cardio; allow yourself time to ramp back up to your pre-flu workout routine.

Your best option for sticking to your fitness resolutions is to avoid getting sick in the first place! Protect yourself from the flu by getting a flu vaccine at any of our MHM Locations, and always keep your hands clean to avoid the spread of illness.