Posts Tagged ‘cold’

Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?

One benefit of Clean Livin’ that I haven’t talked about is that I don’t get sick very often, or at least not nearly as often as I used to. Over the past few years most of my colds have only lasted a day or two and haven’t been nearly as severe as they had seasonally in the past.

Of course, as soon as I was thinking that I got out of another Chicago Winter by only getting a single 36-hour-long head cold, I got completely waylaid by a cold in the midst of a long Spring.


I started getting a sore throat last Saturday which developed into a full-blown cold throughout the day on Sunday. By Monday morning I was down for the count.

I stayed home sick, and actually felt worse Tuesday morning, so another vacation day lost to the virus. I’ve been exercising every day, eating right, but a viral infection doesn’t care about any of that. Since then I’ve had a runny nose and am, a week later, still coughing up mucus from my lungs. Sexy!

While I don’t enjoy being sick at any time, it always feels particularly unfair in the Spring or Summer when the weather is starting to get nicer. Why does the seasonal transition seem to bring about more illness than prolonged cold weather?

Exercise While Sick?

I avoided exercise on Monday after walking around for much of the day on Sunday and getting sicker the longer we stayed out. On Tuesday I slept a lot more and took a very short walk to pick up Chinese soup for dinner, and even that was tiring.

By Wednesday I was feeling much better (albeit not 100%) and returned to work. I’m still stuffed-up and my voice is half an octave deeper, but even by the end of the day I wasn’t feeling any worse than I did in the morning.

I didn’t resume my usual morning treadmill routine until Friday, which meant skipping five days of even moderate exercise.

I checked the Internet for advice on whether or not to exercise while sick and found the general consensus is:

  • Exercise is okay if all of your symptoms are above the neck – runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, sore throat.
  • Don’t exercise if you have an upset stomach or chest congestion.
  • Don’t exercise if you have a fever, feel weak, or have general muscle aches throughout your body. The fever is especially important, because exercise may raise your body temperature further and cause more serious issues.
  • Don’t exercise if you have any trouble breathing or feel resistance when you breathe in, as that’s a sign of chest congestion and intense exercise can actually make your congestion worse.

So take it easy if you do any exercise while sick, but it’s probably better to just rest and (eventually) get well.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I'm just some guy who lost a lot of weight and studied up on nutrition, diet, and exercise in order to improve my personal fitness. The contents of this site in no way contains medical advice. You should visit your doctor before making any dramatic changes to your diet or activity. While I make every attempt to be as accurate as possible regarding current knowledge and scientific studies (please feel free to let me know when I'm wrong about something), and may from time to time post updates to correct inaccuracies in previous entries, the information on this site is provided "as-is" for entertainment purposes only. Don't do something stupid and then sue me. I'm just trying to help. Thanks.