Should You Workout (Pt.1)…When You’re Sick

Sick Dog

You’re not bedridden, but you caught some bug and don’t feel well. Now you’re wondering, should you even exercise when you’re sick?

First things first, if you need medical advice, consult a doctor. I’m not a doctor.

But if you want practical suggestions from a fitness professional who hates doing anything when he’s sick, I’m your man.

The Better Question

Instead of asking if you should workout, ask: “How can I work around being sick so I don’t lose progress toward reaching my goals?”

With most colds, you feel your worst for a day or two. What I do is rearrange my workout routine to make those my off days.

If you feel worse longer, take off 4-5 days in the middle of being sick. That way, worst case scenario, you still get in some exercise the other 2-3 days.

That’s enough to maintain your progress, and should be enough to help you keep up the habit of exercise. (In fact, sometimes that’s all you need even when you’re well.)

How To Do It

Let’s be realistic.

Those other days of working out, whether at the beginning or end of being sick, you’re not going to be breaking records. But that’s not the point. You just want to get something done.

Here are some tips for how to do it:

  • Don’t expect to be as high intensity as normal. Use lighter weights and/or a slower pace. Rest as needed.

  • Only focus on your main goals. Whether it’s strength, endurance, flexibility, etc., do what you can to focus on that and then be done.

  • For a generic workout, but to keep your whole body primed, do 2 full body workouts, one before you start feeling too bad, and one once you’re starting to feel better.

Worst Case

If you end up feeling horrible and miss a whole week, don’t worry about it. You won’t notice much difference in a week’s time as long as it doesn’t happen frequently.

The important thing is to make sure you get back on track as soon as you feel better.

The great thing about our online coaching is we can adjust your programs to adapt to changes such as when you get sick. But even if you just have questions, we’d love to hear from you, and we will respond within 24 hours!

A note for fitness junkies:

If you have a 104º fever, you’re throwing up every hour, and you still want to workout:

Not only is it ok for you to not workout when you’re sick, but you should also make sure you schedule enough recovery (rest) time into your program every month to avoid getting sick more often through overtraining.

Email for online coaching advice (even if you're not sick!).

Read Part 2 of this series, Should You Workout When You're Hurt, and Part 3 of this series, Should You Workout After An Active Day

Featured Posts