Oh no. You’ve set your alarm clock for a morning gym session and when you wake up there it is. A blocked nose, sore throat and the sniffles. You know you should probably stay in bed, but you’ve been working so hard on your health journey. Is it really so bad to train when you’re sick?
Yes and no as it turns out. So let’s take a closer look.
No. If all you have is a simple cold, with symptoms above the neck, such as a sore throat, runny nose, or even a dry cough, then popular opinion seems to be that training is fine. Training causes a stress response in your body, which is all well and good if you’re in perfect health. In fact, it’s what causes you to become fitter and stronger. But when you’re sick, you’re causing that response in a body with a weakened immune system that’s already fighting off infection. Either dial the intensity back to 50%, keep up with less strenuous movements like gardening or walking, or just rest altogether. If you feel worse after your workout, however, it’s probably best to stop.
Yes. Got a wet cough, chest infection or any gastrointestinal issues? Then it’s straight back to bed with you. And if you have actual flu, then don’t even think about moving for at least a week or so. Resting helps your immune system to recover. Sleep as much as you can, drink plenty of fluids (no, alcohol does NOT count), and take over-the-counter or prescribed medications to relieve your symptoms. When you feel ready, which could be anywhere from 10 days to three weeks, then start with light workouts and build your strength and fitness up again. A few missed workouts won’t set you back, but training when you’re properly sick just might.
For more workout tips here are 5 tips to kickstart your fitness journey like a pro!