Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?

Exercising regularly could help you beat a cold faster if you get sick, according to previous research. But what if you’re already sick? Should you keep exercising? Some experts say the answer depends on your symptoms: When you have a mild cold, light exercise could be just fine; but if you’re really sick, you may ...

Exercising regularly could help you beat a cold faster if you get sick, according to previous research. But what if you’re already sick? Should you keep exercising? Some experts say the answer depends on your symptoms: When you have a mild cold, light exercise could be just fine; but if you’re really sick, you may be better off in bed. Here are two rules of thumb, recently published in the LA Times, to help you decide whether you should grab your gym shorts or your jammies:

  • Green light, go! Use the “above the neck” rule: If your symptoms are above the neck, like a sore throat or the sniffles, you should be fine engaging in light to moderate exercise. While the research isn’t clear on whether or not this exercise will help you feel better, if you take it easy—making sure you can carry on a conversation during your workout—it shouldn’t make you feel worse.
  • Red light, rest! If you have the flu or symptoms below your neck, like chills, body aches, fever, or nausea, you need to rest. Exercise will strain your already stressed body, which could put you at risk for catching another illness. Rest up so you can get well to exercise another day.

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