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Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?

So you’ve been working hard in the gym and making progress towards your fitness goals, and then you get hit with allergies or illness.  Should you continue with your workout routine or not?

First I’ll give you the safe answer: go see your doctor and do what he/she says which will typically be to rest until you’re well.

Now the answer for exercise junkies or anyone else who doesn’t want to lose their hard earned gainz every time they sneeze.  There are two general approaches that I’m aware of and have used myself.  The first is the rule of thumb that says if the symptoms are above your neck and you have no fever, it’s safe to workout.  For example, if you’ve just got a stuffy nose, sore throat, or sinus infection, then buckle up and hit the gym.  If the infection has spread to your chest or you have a stomach bug or fever, then stay home and rest.  Either way, for God’s sake please cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash hands frequently to avoid spreading germs to others.

The second approach is to let your energy level guide you.  If you’re having a hard time just getting out of bed and making it through the day because you’re sick and have no energy, then you should listen to your body and rest.  On the other hand, if you have a cold or cough but feel your energy levels are normal, then go ahead and work out.

Personally, I’ve had more success following my energy levels than using the above-the-neck approach.  Before I learned to listen to my body, my young and invincible self would often suffer through a work out when I felt deathly sick, and although I survived and felt better temporarily from the adrenaline rush, later I always crashed and felt much worse.  Repeating that mistake several days in a row usually resulted in an injury because my body wasn’t able to recover from the workouts while fighting the illness.  Having gone through that, I now advise anyone who’s sick to take an honest assessment of their energy level.  Then ask yourself if you have the energy not only to survive the workout but to recover and benefit from it, and proceed accordingly.  Your body will thank you for it!

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