When you’re sick, people tend to give you a lot of advice: anything ranging from home remedies, medications, or even working out.
There are a lot of contradicting pieces of advice out there about exercising while and after you’re sick. Some people say to rest. Some people say sweat it out.
But, what’s the real answer? How long should you wait to exercise after or when you’re sick?
The answer isn’t so simple.
You need to be careful. Working out is a healthy activity. Although, if you work out while you’re sick or work out too soon after you have recovered, symptoms may worsen.
Depending on your symptoms or the sickness that you had, wait times for working out may be longer or shorter.
You should NOT work out when you have a fever. Do not sweat it out—you are already sweating.
Due to your fever, your body temperature is already too high. Working out will only increase your heart rate and your body temperature.
If you workout while having a fever, you run the risk of increasing your already-high temperature and even passing out.
If your cold symptoms are all in your head (not imaginary, but if you have symptoms like a runny nose, congestion, or are sneezing), then exercise won’t make the cold any worse. As long as you’re also not experiencing a fever, see above.
Do be wary of working out, if you are taking medication to help alleviate your cold symptoms. Some cold medicines can increase your heart rate. When this is combined with working out, you may experience light-headedness or shortness of breath.
If you’re experiencing any symptoms in the neck or lungs while you have a cold, this changes the answer. Avoid the gym or strenuous activities until those symptoms clear up.
If you have a sore throat, bronchitis, strep, or any sickness involving the respiratory system, working out will make it worse.
If you don’t rest, your sickness may get worse. For example, if you work out when you’re experiencing a sore throat, the symptoms could worsen and develop into something more serious such as bronchitis.
After you get over a respiratory illness, you should also wait two weeks before working out again. Allow your body to rest and heal.
It’s important to allow your body to rest, especially if you have a fever. Like mentioned before, if you work out while your body temperature is already high, you will only increase the fever. An even worse case of influenza will then keep you from exercising for even longer.
Once your fever breaks (usually after 2-5 days), wait 24-hours before working out. This will help ensure that your fever has subsided, but it could also protect those who are working out near you. Gyms are already home to an endless supply of germs, so there’s no reason to add flu-carrying bacteria into the air.
Written for Passport Health by Kaitlyn Luckow. Kaitlyn is a freelance writer, photographer and English teacher in Milwaukee. She has a passion for capturing and writing other people’s stories. You can find her at sayhellostory.com.