If you are the type of person that has made exercising a regular part of your routine, you may have wondered if you should still hit the gym when you are feeling less than your best. There are a couple different schools of thought when it comes to what to do about working out when sick: Wait it Out or Sweat it Out.
There is a time for both, but choosing the wrong option could set you back even further or you could get others sick if you are not careful. This guide will offer some basic tips to help you decide which is the best option for your particular situation.
The general rule is that it is okay, even beneficial, to exercise when your symptoms are above the neck. However, when you are experiencing below-the-neck symptoms, it is best to hold off or at least exercise very lightly.
When to Sweat it Out:
Let’s start by making it clear that you can’t actually sweat the infection or virus out of your body, and sweating too much while sick without properly replenishing fluids could prolong or increase the severity of your illness.
That being said, moderate exercise combined with proper rehydration could improve your symptoms and help you recover faster and get back to your regular routine.
Whenever you are experiencing a head cold with symptoms like sinus congestion, a runny nose, or a headache, getting more blood flow to your head and opening up your airways is an ideal form of treatment. Still, it is important to pay extra attention to how you feel and if at any point you become lightheaded, you are likely pushing it too far.
When to Wait it Out:
If you are the type that looks forward to going to the gym, it can be disheartening to be forced to stay away due to illness. However, if you push it too hard when you’re sick you could end up spending weeks out of the gym instead of a few days.
Illnesses like the flu and pneumonia are mostly characterized by below-the-neck symptoms like upset stomach, fever, and a cough. Whenever you are experiencing these types of symptoms, it is best to avoid the gym altogether.
When you lift heavy or go for a long run, your body needs to recover before you can give your best effort again. So whenever you are experiencing internal trauma from an illness, it is best to just give your body time to heal itself and get rid of the bacteria or virus that is slowing you down.
Exercise is only beneficial when your body is well rested and ready to go. When you’re feeling unwell, take a minute to assess your symptoms. If you just have the sniffles or a headache, a workout might be just what the doctor ordered. If your symptoms are related to your chest, stomach, or body you need to give yourself some time. The good news is that people who exercise regularly are less likely to get sick and if they do, their illness will likely end sooner!