Fitness Goals

Should You Train Sick?

Hill, PT, CSCS

As Summer comes and goes, the days get shorter and colder leading to cold/flu season. No good for you if you’re trying to stay on top of your fitness regime. You don’t have time to get sick. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

One morning you wake up and find you’re not feeling so well — your nose is clogged, and your throat is sore. You’ve planned a killer Sworkout for later in the day once the kids are safely on the bus to school. You haven’t missed a workout yet this month! You are crushing your goals, and the workouts are becoming easier and easier. 

You consider bagging the workout.. but is that the right call?

Should you skip a workout when you’re feeling sick?

This is a question that I get asked frequently and for a good reason! Can working out make you sicker? Can it prolong your cold? Is there any truth to “flushing out the sickness” with an intense bout of exercise?

Physical therapists around the world work with sick people every day. A major part of physical therapy includes guided exercise, including strength and cardiovascular training among those that are sick. They have developed a system to determine whether or not a patient is cleared for regular exercise. 

This screening called the “NECK CHECK” can be used to help determine whether you should attempt exercise or stay in bed for a few days. So, before you load your next workout on the Sworkit App, check to see if you’re having any of these symptoms below the neck:

  • Achy Joints
  • Sore Muscles
  • Body Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Productive Cough
  • Fever
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of Breath

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or any other symptoms below your neck, you should highly consider taking the day off, resting, and rehydrating.

If your symptoms lie above the neck such as:

  • Mild Sore throat
  • Runny Nose
  • Congestion
  • Dry Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Mild Headache

Warm up for 10 minutes at half speed and monitor how you feel. Do your symptoms get better or worse? If they seem to get better or stay the same, then continue on with your workout as tolerated!

You can always dial back the intensity and length of your workout if you need to. Instead of working out for your regular 30 minutes, try 20 minutes instead! If you normally perform 20 pushups, try 10. 

If your symptoms get worse after the 10 minute warm-up at half speed, it would be wise to take the day off! There’s no need to be a superhero if you’re not feeling 100%.

When in doubt, listen to your body. It’s always safer to rest and recover than to push through a workout when your body isn’t ready. Your fitness gains won’t leave over night. Your body will let you know if it’s capable of exercise. 

Important: If you feel sick, even with just symptoms above the neck, refrain from using public locations.

Hill, PT, CSCS

Steve is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Physical Therapist, and one of Sworkit's Fitness Trainers. His favorite activities are working out, hiking, four-wheeling, and body surfing. Steve loves helping members with injury prevention, exercise modification, and strength training.
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