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Does Exercising When Sick do More Harm Than Good?
Does exercising when sick do more harm than good?
17 Jul 2019

Staying on top of your workout routine takes discipline. So, what happens when you get sick? Should you push through leg day and sweat it out, or should you give your body the rest it needs? Here is what you need to know about working out while sick.

Can I exercise when I am sick?

Staying healthy is all about listening to your body. You can continue to soldier on if you have mild symptoms like light coughing. However, when you have severe symptoms such as fever, diarrhoea, headaches, and nausea it would be best to steer away from the gym. The common Flu can often be mistaken as a light symptom but exercising while you have the flu can cause heart complications or myocarditis that can kill you. This can cause your heart to work overtime which results in complications. This is why you will be better off resting than pushing through your usual workout routine.  Always keep in mind that you can get back on the saddle once you have fully recovered. 

Can I do light workouts?

You can stick to doing light exercises that do not exceed the 30-minute mark. The key is to listen to your body and should you experience any type of discomfort then it is advisable to discontinue the workout. Some workouts that you can do are:

  • Light jogging
  • Yoga
  • Walking

If working out boosts my immune system, why do I still get sick?

We all have various reasons as to why we workout; to lose weight, to gain muscle, to be fit, and to stay healthy. As much as working out can help boost your immune system it does not guarantee that you will not become sick. Stress can cause you to become ill by producing a hormone called cortisol that turns off the production of another hormone called cytokines that help your immune system to respond aggressively to infections. Furthermore, unhealthy practices such as not washing your hands can cause the spread of germs that make you sick. Therefore, it is important to have precautions in place such as:

  • Getting a flu shot
  • Washing your hands
  • Disinfecting surfaces that you use often
  • Drinking lots of liquids
  • Eating nutritious food

Seek professional medical help

It is advisable to see a doctor to find out if it is safe for you to workout. Your doctor will also be able to advise you on the type of medication that will be suitable for your current situation, which is better than self-medicating yourself.  If you are on antibiotics it is vital to remember to complete your course. However, keep in mind not to over-medicate yourself with antibiotics as this can make the bacteria resistant to the medication.

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