Should You Still Be Working Out When You're Sick?

There's no denying that it's essential to get your daily exercise. Whether you like high-intensity training or a few minutes of walking, moving your body is key to a healthy lifestyle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should participate in at least 150 minutes of physical activity weekly. This minimum threshold is essential for all of your body's organs to function at a perfect rhythm. Keeping your body healthy will help you avoid dangerous diseases and illnesses. However, despite our best attempts, you may find that even the slightest sickness can find its way to you.


Getting ill is not uncommon, especially during the flu and cold season or during winter months. When you get sick, an illness can throw off your entire routine. Along with your work and personal life, your fitness journey can also be affected by sickness. When you feel sick, most of the time, the last thing you think about is getting a workout in. However, if you feel you could muster the energy, how safe is it to work out while you're sick? Ultimately, we're suggested to rest but also make time for exercise. Knowing how to balance a sickness with your exercise routine may just be the difference your body needs.

Is it okay to work out when you're sick?

Depending on your sickness, some exercise might be what you need to start feeling better. TheĀ Mayo Clinic explains that mild to moderate exercising could help open up your nasal passages and alleviate nasal congestion. If you're looking to squeeze in a minimal workout, you'll want to ensure that all of your symptoms are "above the neck." The phrase "above the neck" qualifies symptoms such as runny nose, mild sore throat, nasal congestion, or sneezing. If you have any of these symptoms, it's okay to try to do a lower-intensity workout. However, if you're suffering from symptoms "below the neck," such as a cough, upset stomach, or chest congestion, you will want to avoid exercising until the symptoms stop.


GoodRx adds that while it is okay to work out when you have mild to moderate symptoms, you want to pay attention to your body first. This rule includes ceasing any physical activity if you start having painful body aches, cough with mucus, severe fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Your body will be the best indicator to know whether you can exercise. If you feel light-headed or nauseous, stay away from physical activity and continue to rest until you feel better. While moderate exercising can help your body deal with the illness sooner, you want to ensure that your body is ready before jumping in head-first.

How to exercise when you're sick

If you're up to a small bit of exercise, there are plenty of ways you can get active while you're sick. In fact, trainer Kelly Chase tells Aaptiv, "Rest is very important when you're struggling with a cold. Your immune system is compromised and therefore does not need the stress from high-energy workouts. However, a gentle workout such as a walk or even restorative yoga may be good during this time because it's giving your body the energy it needs to heal." During your sick period, take the time to slow down your exercise regimen and get back to the basics. Instead of jogging, take a walk until you feel ready to increase the intensity.


Tom's of Maine suggests exercises that help your body combat your illness, getting you ready to get back into the gym when you are ready. Besides going for a walk, try focusing on stretching and yoga. These exercises help increase your body's circulation and keep your muscles ready for a higher-intensity workout on another day. However, if you want something with more intensity but still low enough to benefit you while sick, try using a stationary bike or core exercise. Unless you're suffering from stomach issues, these exercises will help move the rest of your body that is feeling better.