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Exercising While Sick: Should You Be Doing It?

Nov 11, 2010

Should you exercise while sick? This is a question that has probably come across your mind when you wake up in the morning feeling sick as a dog. If fitness is one of your priorities then maintaining a regular workout routine is probably important to you. However, what about those days when you feel under the weather? Should you proceed to working out or should you just stay in bed? Read on to learn more about exercising while sick.

When Is Exercising While Sick A Bad Idea?

As you probably know, regular exercise is essential for good health. However, there are times when a workout might have a negative effect on your body, especially when you are physically sick. When you exercise, your heart rate increases as well as the core temperature of your body. Your body also burns fuel or energy at a fast rate. Since you are constantly perspiring during exercise, a workout can also cause you to lose water. These effects are all harmless in a healthy body. However, if you're sick then these effects can have a negative impact on you. For instance, if you are suffering from a fever then this means that the core temperature of your body is already high. Raising this temperature further can be dangerous. Maintaining your bodily fluids is also important when you are sick. Since working out involves water loss, you run the risk of becoming dehydrated.

Contagious Diseases And Exercise

So how do you know when it's the right time to work out and when it's better to just rest in bed? There are several factors that you need to consider when making your decision. First, is your sickness contagious? This is basically the first question you should ask yourself. If your workout involves exercising with other people - such as in a gym or an exercise class - then it's important that you show consideration for the people around you. You don't want to show up at your yoga class and start sneezing - spreading germs around in the process. Since you need to touch exercise equipment when you work out in a gym, you might end up spreading your disease to the other gym users.

The Neck Check

Another factor that you should consider is the symptoms of your disease. One good way of determining if it's safe to exercise while sick is to perform what is called "the neck check". If the symptoms of your sickness are located above your neck then it's generally safe to exercise. Above-neck symptoms include a sore throat, a headache or colds. However, you should still decrease the intensity of your workout by as much as 50%. If you start feeling better as you exercise, you can gradually increase the intensity of your workout. However, if you feel yourself becoming dizzy, weak or nauseous then you should immediately discontinue exercising.

On the other hand, if your symptoms are located below your neck then it might be best to take the day off instead. For instance, if you have a severe stomachache, muscle pain or diarrhea then it might be better to just rest in bed.

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