Exercising When You’re Sick

Many people wonder whether exercising while being sick will help or hinder their recovery. The answer will depend on many things, including just how sick you are. Mild to moderate exercise is usually okay if you have a mild cold and no fever. Exercise may be beneficial in temporarily relieving nasal congestion. With cold weather and rainy days, winter often means catching a bug or illness. It can be difficult to commit to an exercise routine at the best of times, so exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling under the weather. A conservative approach may assist you in feeling better. 

If you still want to exercise when you’re sick, lower the intensity. Before you collapse onto the lounge, consider a bit of physical movement, rather than a full-on workout. Unless you’re severely out of shape, non-strenuous movement shouldn’t hurt you — and it can even help. 

exercising when you're sick

Try non-strenuous movement

What is meant by “non-strenuous movement”?

Non-strenuous movement can include: 

  • walking,
  • low-intensity bike riding,
  • gardening,
  • breathing exercises and simple yoga poses or stretching. 

While exercising is generally harmless when you have a mild cold or earache, working out when you are experiencing any of the following symptoms is not recommended: a fever, frequent cough, stomach bug, or flu symptoms. 

When you’re sick and fighting an infection, your immune system will already be stressed. If you add the stress of prolonged vigorous exercise you may overtrain and prolong your recovery. 

exercising when you're sick

Ensure you’re getting adequate sleep, allowing your body to rest and recover

Let your body be your guide. If you need more rest, allow yourself to skip exercising until you can gradually return to your normal routine. Adequate sleep is crucial to supporting your immune system in fighting off a bug. Winter months make it tempting to sink into the lounge, as you may feel a lack of energy. To combat this, ensure you keep up a healthy routine in getting enough sleep and eating well. The more energized you feel, the easier it will be to stay active, and the less likely you’ll be to get sick. 

exercising when you're sick

Listen to your body

It’s always best to listen to your body and seek advice from your doctor and exercise physiologist when considering whether to exercise when you’re sick. Be mindful that while you may be feeling better, you may still be spreading your illness with others (eg if you return to the gym after the flu). Ask your doctor for advice. 

Following an exercise program designed specifically for your individual needs can assist you in exercising for your body and not overtraining, leaving you rundown and vulnerable to illness. Talk to an exercise physiologist today for personalised health, wellness and dietary advice. Call us on 02 4961 3399 or email hello@transcendhealth.com.au to learn more. 

Exercise Physiology Transcend Health Broadmeadow 

During your first session, Our Exercise Physiologist will spend some time listening to and assessing your needs and work with you to create the best plan for you to achieve your goals. This initial session is 60 minutes long. You may have access to rebates and compensation schemes with appropriate health fund coverage or GP referral.

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