Working Out While Sick

working out while sick

Should you exercise when you’re sick?

The common cold sucks, the flu can be downright deadly, and a stomach bug makes you pray to the porcelain God for mercy. Getting sick sucks, no one likes it. It can make you miss work, family obligations, and workouts. Slipping up on your workouts for 3-4 days in a row can have some people scrapping the workout altogether. Instead of slipping up should you exercise when you’re sick?

Exercise when you’re sick… Should you?

When it comes down to it, many physicians say that you can work out if:

Can You Exercise When You're Sick1. You don’t have a fever:

Working out can raise your internal body temperature even more which can lead to a huge disaster.

2. You don’t have muscle aches and fatigue:

Working out while you have these symptoms can lead to injury due to a lack of awareness and already fatigued muscles.

3. All symptoms are above your neck:

If your symptoms are a runny nose or stuffy sinuses then you should be okay to work out. On the other hand, if your symptoms are “below the neck” such as upset stomach or chest congestion you should avoid your exercise program.

If your symptoms are above the head then you should be in the clear. But that doesn’t mean doing your normal, lengthy strength training program. It’s best to ratchet it back a notch by performing mild or moderate exercise.

Remember you aren’t your normal, powerful, Hulk-like self!

You may be afraid that working out with a mild cold can prolong the symptoms or even make them worse. A 2003 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine indicated that moderate exercise will not increase the length or the severity of the symptoms of simple upper respiratory infections.

This basically means that if all the symptoms are “above the head” you should be good to go when it comes to moderate exercise!


Listen to your body. If you are puking… from both ends… you got to realize exercise isn’t worth it and out of the question. If you just have a stuffy head you can go for it but just realize you aren’t 100% and ease up a little.

Remember the old adage “above the neck = good to go; below the neck = forgetaboutit!”

Yeah, we totally just made that up but you get the point. You can sometimes exercise when you’re sick!

Sick Sources: – Exercising When Sick
WebMD – Exercising When Sick


Weidner T, Schurr T (2003) Effect of exercise on upper respiratory tract infection in sedentary subjects. British journal of sports medicine 37.4: 304-306.

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Josh is the founder of DIY Active - your at home fitness source! He enjoys blending the latest science and expert advice with health practices to help you exercise smarter at home!
Josh Anderson
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Working Out While Sick