The Monday Mile – Too Sick to Exercise?

Exercise Sick

One of the keys to a fitness routine is … making it a routine. That means doing it on a regular basis, and for most people it means setting up a time pretty much every day when you can make it happen. For me it is 4AM runs, for others it is a post-work stop at the gym, and others have their own way of getting it done.

But what if you are not feeling great? Should you still work out, or are you better taking a day off? Here are five quick thoughts:

1. If you have a fever, just rest. Stay home and skip exercise, stay home from work or school, skip grocery shopping, and just get rest. It is better for you … and for everyone else.

2. A recent study shows that the Flu vaccine is made more effective through exercise. That is right, if you get your Flu shot and then take some time and get in a workout, your body is much more effective at developing and spreading antibodies.

3. If you are asthmatic or suffer from exercise-induced asthma symptoms, heading out in sub-freezing temperatures can exacerbate your symptoms. This is different from the old myth that you can freeze your lungs. In fact, the whole ‘exercise in cold is dangerous’ thing is a myth … it is just cold.

4. Here is the conventional medical wisdom – if your symptoms are above the neck (running nose, etc) then exercise can actually help and certainly won’t hurt. If your symptoms are below the neck (body aches, chest congestion, thick or colored phlegm, etc), better sit this one out … and maybe see the doctor.

5. If you have a cold and want to work out but are feeling less than energetic, try lowering the intensity of your workout. You could even switch up to a lower intensity or strengthening exercise instead of cardio-based activity.

Most important? Listen to your body and be honest – don’t hit snooze over a little runny nose … but don’t push through a workout when the only thing between you and a fever is the ibuprofen!

What are your exercise habits when you are not feeling great?

Categories: Gear Bits, Health and Fitness, Outdoors


3 replies

  1. As you said, I never exercise with a fever. However, if I didn’t exercise with a cough, I would miss weeks at a time – I tend to end all colds with a cough that last two to three weeks.

    One thing I do that you did not mention is to check my pulse if I am not feeing 100%. If my waking pulse is high compared with usual, I either take an easy day or an off day.

    • Great idea with the pulse check – and that advice is exactly as noted, if you are not up to it, decrease intensity.

      And the cough is interesting as I find it mentioned as both ‘above’ and ‘below’ in various articles. It depends on whether it is a chest cough, I suppose … thought that can be tricky to determine at times.

      And further on coughs, they are saying that most flu-related stuff this year has a cough lasting at least 18 days past primary infection. So even if you aren’t fully taken down by the flu this year, you could still have a cough for up to 3 weeks!


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