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Should You Work Out When You Are Sick?

There’s no right or wrong answer. But if you decide to work out, there are several things to keep in mind.

When to Rest or Exercise When Sick

Determining whether it's okay to exercise ultimately depends on how you feel. If you're not sure if you should lace up your sneakers, check with a doctor. One simple way to decide is to map out your symptoms: Are they from the neck up or the neck down?1


It's usually okay to exercise when symptoms above the neck include:

Runny nose

Slight cough

Nasal congestion


Minor sore throat


It’s usually best to skip a workout when symptoms include:

Chest congestion

Hacking cough

Upset stomach


Definitely do not work out when your symptoms include:*

A fever

Widespread muscle aches

Swollen lymph glands


If you've experienced these symptoms, it's best to wait two to four weeks before resuming intensive training.3


Listen to Your Body

If you feel run down and need the rest, take it. A few skipped days won't drastically decrease performance.4 However, if you do go to the gym, keep these things in mind:

    A workout while sick should generally be lower intensity and shorter in duration than normal1

    If you choose to exercise, now is not the time to run a new personal record or lift heavier

    Once you start to feel better, gradually bump up exercise intensity 

If you have any remaining questions, please contact your health care provider.


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