A healthy diet and regular workout is an excellent way to keep yourself healthy. Regular exercise reduces the risk of various chronic diseases like heart diseases and diabetes, keeps your weight in control, and boosts your immunity system.
While there is no doubt that exercise plays an important role in health, but still many people wonder if working out while sick will help or hinder their recovery.
Should You Work out While You’re Sick?
A structured workout routine (sweating, breathing heavily, and working hard) awakens a stress response in the body. Your body can easily adapt to this stress when you’re healthy. Over time, this progressive adaptation makes you fitter and stronger. However, when you’re sick, your body makes extra effort to fight off infection, leaving you to feel weak or exhausted. In this situation, your body needs more energy than usual. So make sure to rest properly and take proper care of yourself.
When you’re sick it’s better to work out or take rest depends on different situations:
#1. If you have a simple cold or cough . . . try low-intensity exercises
Getting sick doesn’t mean you go and dive to the couch if you feel the sniffles coming on. You can do some non-strenuous exercises such as:
- Low-intensity bike riding
- Practicing yoga or T’ai Chi
These low strenuous exercises can help you feel better and recover faster while feeling under the weather instead of raising stress levels in your body.
Mild to moderate level physical activity is okay if your illness symptoms are “above the neck”, such as nasal congestion, runny nose, minor sore throat, or sneezing. The non-strenuous exercises will help you feel better by opening your nasal passages and temporarily relieving nasal congestion.
If you experience “above the neck” illness symptoms, try reducing your workout intensity, such as you can go for a walk, instead of running.
#2. If you have flu or fever . . . skip the workout
You should avoid working out if you experience illness signs and symptoms “below the neck”. These symptoms may include chest congestion, a hacking cough or upset stomach, fever, widespread muscle aches, or fatigue.
According to the NCBI report, ‘Working out in a fever will increase fluid loss in the body and also raises your body temperature, making you feel worse. So it’s better to take complete rest until you get fully recovered. If you’ve flu, your body will take 3-5 days to taper off flu symptoms such as chills, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Do not exercise until and unless you feel better and you’ve been fever-free for at least 24 hours. Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before getting back to your workout regime.
#3. If you have aches and pains . . . listen to your body.
While working out, your body experiences some discomfort associated with muscles being activated. Normal discomfort is okay, however, if you experience any of these symptoms such as unable to catch your breath or wheezing, stop working out. Save your energy and allow your body to feel better and to recover completely.
Exercise is the key to good health and fit body, however, there are times when your body may need a break. If you’re sick, don’t push yourself and pay proper attention to your recovery.
You should know that to achieve a healthy and fit body, it’s important to listen to your body. If you feel exhausted or have zero energy levels, take a day off, eat healthily, and allow your body to recover properly. Once you get recovered, follow a healthy diet and proper workout regime to keep your weight in check and to get fitter.
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