Exercise While Sick? It is Beneficial or Harmful?

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Regular exercise keeps your body fit and healthy. It boosts your immunity system and regulates body weight. When you engage in a regular workout, it keeps your existing diseases in check and reduces the future possibilities of severe ailments such as heart ailments, and diabetes. But, is exercising safely when you are sick or it hinders your healing.

People do not have much clarity about whether they should do exercise or skip it till they become well. The answer is not black and white. Keep reading to know in what cases you are allowed to exercise and when you should take rest.

In What ways Does Exercise Impact our Immunity levels?

Sickness is closely related to our immunity levels. It happens due to a compromised immune system. When you are sick, you need to strengthen your immunity to help recover faster. It has been scientifically proven that exercise improves the immune system of the body and prevents us from a broad array of life-threatening diseases.

In a healthy immune system, the white blood cells prevent the foreign particles, and pathogens from damaging the healthy cells in the body. Illnesses such as cough, cold, flu, stomach issues, etc. are caused due to inactivity and an unhealthy lifestyle. This adversely impacts the functioning of the immune system, and makes you prone to the above ailments.

When you walk in open grounds, or workout in the gym, so many good things start to happen in the body. Your immune system recharges, blood circulation increases, stress reduces, metabolism improves and a lot more. Your body begins to produce more antigens to fight against several types of pathogens and harmful particles present in the external environment.

In this way, regular exercise develops your immunity. However, there are some exceptions. In some cases, your immune system boosts by taking rest and doing no physical activity. So, it is important that you learn the guidelines and follow them diligently.

Is It Safe To Work out When You Are Unwell?

When you are sick, your only goal is to recover soon. But it is quite hard to figure it out when you should take rest and when you should follow your normal workout routine. If you keep on exercising when you should not, then it can be harmful to your body. According to health experts, if you experience discomfort in the areas above the neck area such as a blocked nose, ear pain, or sneezing, you are fine to continue doing exercise.

On the other hand, if you experience uneasiness below your neck, in the form of body pain, diarrhea, fever, persistent cough or congestion in the chest, then you should skip your workout till you feel good again.

Types Of Sicknesses When It Is Safe To Exercise

If you suffer from below symptoms, then it is perfectly fine to workout. However, you should take a second opinion from your doctor as well.

1. Ear ache

If the pain in the ear is due to an injury or infection, then it is safe to exercise. Exercise can distract you from the pain. On the other hand, if the pain is due to a sinus infection, pressure on sinus, fever etc. then you should take rest and wait to recover completely. Only then, you should resume your normal workout. Before you start to work out again, it is important to ensure that you do not have any kind of these infections.

2. Mild Sore Throat

The main reasons for soreness in the throat are viral infection in the throat, common cold, allergies, or flu. Exercise in this condition is only permissible when you have sore throat without displaying any symptoms such as fever, extreme and persistent coughing, difficulties in swallowing, etc.

Sipping warm water at regular intervals of time and gargling two times a day will help in this condition. People who have an extremely sore throat, should take the advice of the doctor before they perform any exercise.

If along with soreness in the throat, you feel a few other symptoms such as common cold, congestion, and fatigue, then it is advised to decrease the intensity, and duration of the daily workout routine. This is necessary because your body may lack the strength to perform the workout. Over exerting the body beyond its capabilities is of no use.  It will backfire and harm the body.

Types of Sicknesses When It Is Not Safe To Exercise

If you experience the below-mentioned conditions, then it is not advised to workout. Let us know what they are:

1. Recurrent Cough

Recurring episodes of productive coughing is mostly due to an infection in the respiratory tract. It is thus needed to get an extensive check-up before the illness reduces. Your doctor will advise you not to do any exercise at home and at the gym as it can cause strain to the lungs, and air passages.

An obstinate cough can cause difficulties while taking deep breaths, especially when your heart starts to beat faster during an intense or fast movement. In cases of chronic cough, you may face obstruction in breathing and fatigue. This will negatively impact your health.

Moreover, a recurrent cough is a sign of an airborne ailment. It can also be contagious in nature. Hitting the gym or a park in this condition can put others at risk of getting exposed to microorganisms. They may even catch the infection. So, it is advised to heal yourself completely before performing any physical exercise.

2. Fever

Fever is the sign of a bacterial or viral infection. In this condition, the temperature of the body crosses the normal body temperature i.e., around 98.6°F. Due to which, you feel weak, and dehydrated. You may also experience body ache, muscle pain, and lose your appetite. In such a scenario, it is required that you take adequate rest and medication that your doctor prescribes so as to recover quickly.

It is strictly not permitted to exercise at this time. Fever reduces muscle endurance and strength and weakens the accuracy and synchronization of the moves. Due to these reasons, it can enhance the chances of injuries, increase in the body temperature and further aggravation of the condition. It is best to skip your workout routine until your fever goes away completely.

3. Stomach Issues

Stomach illnesses, or stomach flu are mostly noticed in the form of a decline in appetite, vomiting, fever, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and, food poisoning. All these can reduce the performance of your immune system. These symptoms may leave you weak and incapable of forming any activity. This can result in the possibility of injuries at the time of doing a workout.

Eating light, staying properly hydrated, and following doctor’s instructions should be the priority. Do not overexert yourself by indulging in exercises. Your muscles need to relax and recover. The stomach flu is extremely contagious. It can easily spread from one person to another. So, going out in this condition is not safe for you as well as for others. If it is causing you restless, then you can do easy stretches at home.

4. Flu

Flu or Influenza is a form of a contagious disease that directly affects the breathing system of the body. It is caused due to a viral infection in the lungs. In addition to difficulties in respiration, you may also experience a few other symptoms that include fever, weakness, persistent cough, sore throat, headache, nasal congestion, body pain, and chills. Based on the infection, you may have mild or chronic flu.

In this condition, it is advised to take complete rest till you recuperate. Any amount of exercise can increase body temperature that can in turn worsen the existing health condition. Normally the symptoms of flu disappear in fifteen or twenty days. If you continue exerting yourself in exercises, then it can prolong the recovery process. It will suppress the defense system of the body on a temporary basis and make it slower to recover.

Another reason why you should stay at home, and avoid going outside is that flu is contiguous. The tiny droplets that you release in the surroundings, can spread everywhere and infect people. So, if you are identified with the flu, it is best to stay home and take rest.

5. Stuffy Nose

A chocked nose can be a difficult time to cope up with it. It can cause a lot of frustration and annoyance. Steam helps in clearing your nasal passage. In this condition, it is important to take adequate rest as there are possibilities that it can lead to fever and a chronic sore throat.

If you notice that chronic signs have disappeared and you are left with only mild nasal congestion, then you can do light exercises. Heavy breathing can open up the airways and make you breathe easily and smoothly.

You should perform light and less strenuous exercises until you completely recover. Some of the good workout ideas are a brisk walk, simple yoga moves, light jogging etc. It will keep you lively and active. Maintain proper hygiene wherever you go so that you don’t infect people.

6. Cold

When you experience cold along with a blocked nose, infection and sneezing, then it is advised to stay at home in place of hitting the gym. You may feel low in energy and weak. So, in this scenario, you should give your body adequate time to relax and heal.

A few stretches can enhance energy and also raise your immunity levels. Take adequate precautions and maintain proper hygiene to avoid spreading the cold to other people. Frequent cleaning of hands and covering your mouth will help.

When Should You Resume Your Normal Exercise Routine?

Before you start to exercise again, it is important to ensure that you have recovered completely. If you are habitual of exercising, then incapability to do an exercise can make you restless and impatient. You may be craving to resume your normal workout routine as soon as possible. But you should not stress and practice patience even in prolonged periods of no exercise.

People are worried about losing the muscle mass that they have gained after a lot of hard work or they will gain weight after long periods of no workout. This will not happen so fast. It requires a minimum of three weeks to lose muscle mass. In most of the cases, you can easily recover from flu in ten days of time. Your muscles have an inbuilt memory so when you resume your regular workout you would not take much time to regain the same strength and muscle mass again.

After recovery, begin with shorter workouts and keep increasing the intensity of workouts slowly. Soon you will be back in the same shape again. Keep yourself adequately hydrated during the workout to prevent dehydration. Finally, listen to your body and follow your doctor’s suggestions when you are thinking about incorporating intense exercises in your workout.

What Type Of Exercises That You Can Do When You Are Sick?

Exercises While You are Sick

Now that you have learned when you can exercise, now let us know what type of exercises you can perform during sickness.

  1. Walking
  2. Jogging
  3. Do light yoga poses and stretching
  4. Take adequate rest and hydrate yourself between the stretching exercises

While doing the above exercises, you should ensure that you do slow and steady movements. In that way, you will not feel tired and exhausted. Doing it in this way, will make you feel better, improve your immune system and help you recover soon.

What Type Of Exercises That You Should Avoid When You Are Sick?

Some of the types of exercises that you should avoid during extreme sickness are:

  1. Running for a prolonged duration
  2. Swimming
  3. Weight Lifting
  4. Zumba and heavy cardio
  5. Refrain from any outdoor activities
  6. Avoid engaging in group sports
  7. Outdoor activities especially in the winter season

These exercises are highly demanding. It needs a lot of endurance and internal strength to perform them. Also, if you are suffering from cold, cough, flu etc., you should avoid going out.


Hitting the gym or hitting the bed? There is no doubt that exercises help you achieve health and wellness. In some types of sickness like mild cold, and nasal congestion, it is alright to exercise. It fills you with feel-good hormones and energizes your body.

While in other cases such as fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, fever or an increasing cough, it is advised to stay away from any form of physical exertion. It may weaken your body and make you prone to injuries. Staying at home and relaxing will speed up the recovery process. With these guidelines, make an informed decision. Listen to your body and follow the instructions of the doctor. It will help you feel better very soon.

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