Regular physical activity can help prevent illness, but what happens when you do become sick? Should you stop your exercise routine? The short answer is … it depends.
Moderately exercising while you’re sick can be safe and in certain cases, might actually improve symptoms such as congestion and low-energy.
First, you need to determine “how sick is sick.” You can figure this out by using the “neck rule.” If you have symptoms above the neck — including sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing or watery eyes — then moderate workouts can continue.
If your symptoms are below the neck — including cough, fever, fatigue or body aches — then rest until the symptoms are gone.
You also can use your temperature to determine whether exercising is okay.
If you have a temperature of 101°Fahrenheit or higher, moderate or vigorous exercise isn’t safe due to risks of heat-related illnesses and dehydration. Keep in mind moderate exercise is the key term here.
It’s important to avoid high-intensity exercise or low-intensity exercises with a longer duration because you risk weakening your immune system even more.
Ultimately, the decision to exercise when you’re sick is up to you. If you’re too weak and fatigued to get out of bed, exercising might not be the best choice.
If you have symptoms of a cold and your temperature is below 101°Fahrenheit, light to moderate exercise could be good for you.
But if bed rest is best because of illness, then gradually return to exercise. And make sure to see a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve or get worse.