Fitness Nutrition Forums

Should You Exercise When You're Sick?

Working out with cold symptoms isn't forbidden, but it's important to know your limits, and avoid exercise at all costs if you have a fever.

It’s cold season, which means you should probably take extra precaution to maintain your health. But in the rare case that you contract a cold, should you exercise, or should you rest? Even though most colds aren’t completely debilitating, it’s important to ensure proper recovery, which, in most cases, calls for hot soup and thick blankets. For those who seek to regain full health at a faster rate, sweating it out is a seeming necessity, although exercising while feeling ill isn’t a simple science, and “sweating it out” is merely a myth.” So, should you exercise when you’re sick? The answer to that unusually complex question may just depend on how sick you actually are.

Don’t ignore your symptoms

The common scratchy throat, runny nose and dry cough don’t necessarily call for immediate rest, but it is important to take proper precaution. If you decide to workout while feeling less than 100 percent, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids, especially those that contain electrolytes, such as sports drinks. It’s increasingly difficult to remain hydrated when combating cold symptoms, which means that consistent water consumption is also a must. Remember to avoid caffeinated beverages, like coffee and energy drinks, specifically because they act as diuretics. Most importantly, remember that taking care of yourself doesn’t always demand exercise. If you’re feeling ill to the point of fatigue, it’s probably best if you get some rest.

The fever no-no

It’s sometimes difficult to decipher the difference between allergy and cold symptoms, but should your nagging ailment be accompanied with a fever, doctors recommend that you stay off your feet. According to, fevers, which cause fatigue, can lead to widespread muscles aches. This naturally decreases the body’s ability to positively respond to exercise, regardless of intensity. If you force yourself to the gym with a fever, you also risk exposing others. So, if you’re considering giving the gym a go while feeling ill, remember to check your body temperature beforehand.

Know your limits

It may not be entirely wise to exercise while sick, but should you make the decision to workout in spite of your symptoms, you need to know your limits. Health experts typically recommend decreasing the intensity of your workout when exercising with cold symptoms. The simplest of examples in this circumstance would be to take a brisk walk, rather than jog, or run. Regardless of whether you’re performing cardio, or lifting weights, reducing the intensity of your ill-fueled workout will decrease your chance of more serious illness, or injury.


Rather than completely exhausting yourself to the point of fatigue, try performing less strenuous modes of exercise when feeling sick. Although it might feel unnatural to detract from your normal workout routine, some exercise is indeed more beneficial than none. According to, yoga and pilates are appropriate alternative activities to the likes of sprints. Other activities, such as general pre-workout stretching, are also effective. Regardless of your decision, it’s most critical to remember to make sure your symptoms are above the neck, meaning that you should never exercise while nursing a fever.

John Shea is a team sports fanatic and fitness aficionado. His work has been published across a wide platform of online audiences in the realm of health and fitness. His passion for fitness is exemplified in his writing, as he aims to help readers improve their overall well-being.

{{ oArticle.title }}

{{ oArticle.subtitle }}