Can you train if you are sick?

Sometimes, illnesses force us to go to bed without a choice. But other times we feel energized to exercise. What decision to make?

Last update: 13 March, 2022

When we get a cold or a headache or a sore throat, the following question arises: what do we do with the training? Sometimes, despite suffering from some discomfort, we feel strong enough to do physical activity. However, We should not only think about our physical state, but also in the health of others. Read on to find out if you can train when you’re sick.

In case of mild symptoms we can perform exercises, but not in the conventional way. In general, working with the intensity to which we are used to can aggravate the condition.

It also exposes us to risk of injury, since we are weaker. In any case, if we lower the intensity and shorten the training, it is possible to take advantage of the time and carry out some activities. On the other hand, remember that you could infect other people.

How do I know if I can train when I’m sick?

Being able to determine when to train and when to take a break is not easy if we are sick. In principle because we must pay attention to the body and see if we have enough energy.

Certain cases require perform activities with less intensity. Consulting a doctor is always the best option.

If you are sick with symptoms above the neck you can train

Some specialists maintain that if the symptoms appear from the neck up, it is possible to carry out some activities. Anyway, we’ll have to do them with less intensity and with a shorter duration.

The activity should not involve effort or cause fatigue. One study found that low-intensity exercise in patients whose disease is mild to moderate in severity can be performed safely under medical supervision.

If you have any of the following conditions, you can do moderate activity:

  • Mild cold: you exercise at home or outdoors. Everything will depend on how much energy we have. Remember to take hygiene measures so as not to infect others.
  • Nasal congestion: If it’s just discomfort and some shortness of breath, exercise can be productive in relieving congestion. Walking or bicycling are good activities.
  • Throat pain: many times we feel pain when we get the flu, although the cold can also cause discomfort in that area. If it is mild, we can do moderate exercises.
  • Earache: it can be caused by an infection. If it is only a nuisance, it is possible to perform exercises. In any case, we must take into account that many movements exacerbate pain in the area.
Infectious processes take away our energy, so we will not be able to train with the same intensity.


If you have symptoms below the neck, it is not recommended to do physical activity

Contrary to the previous case, if the symptoms appear below the neck, the ideal is to rest and recover before resuming physical activity. Keep in mind that we are weak and demanding a little of ourselves could aggravate the pathological process.

You better rest if you suffer from any of these disorders:

  • Fever: body temperature rises and we feel weaker. In addition, we run the risk of dehydration.
  • Flu: the flu generates several symptoms that make it difficult to carry out activities. Fever, body aches, tiredness, and chills. Performing intense exercises can aggravate the condition and delay recovery time.
  • Cough: frequent cough can be a warning of flu or pneumonia. It is likely that we will feel more tired and short of breath, so it is better not to do any activity.
  • Stomach ache: If we have vomiting or diarrhea we run the risk of dehydration. It is also likely that we will suffer some injury because we are weak.


Train at home or outdoors

Performing exercises at home is ideal when we present some symptoms of illness. The main reason is that we can infect others. A 2021 paper highlights that athletes always tend to go ahead with their training despite signs of illness.

The fact of setting goals that we do not want to set aside or the fear of being singled out by our colleagues and society in general, can lead to putting our health and that of third parties at risk.

Another option is to exercise outdoors., where we can take greater precautions and keep a safe distance from others. Low-intensity activities such as walking, stretching, yoga, or mobility circuits can be a good alternative.

Low-intensity walks at a light pace are an option to sustain movement when we are sick.

Take care of your health and that of others when training sick

When we are sick or feel discomfort, it is best to rest and prioritize recovery. If the symptoms are mild, we can do low-intensity exercises to keep pace.

Remember that your health is above training. Missing 1 or 2 days of activity will not have a negative impact on your performance.

You should also take into account those around you, since you can infect them. The most sensible thing is to stay at home or take advantage of the outdoors.

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