Can Working Out Make You Sick?

We all know that exercise is good for us. But sometimes, working out can actually make us sick. Here’s what you need to know about exercise-related illness, and how to stay healthy while you’re working out.


Exercising is one of the best ways to keep healthy and stay in shape. Many people turn to exercise to improve their physical and mental well-being, but can too much exercise lead to ill health? Recent scientific research has suggested that undertaking intense physical activity for an extended period of time may have a detrimental effect on the health of an individual. In this article we will look at how excessive or prolonged exercise can cause illness, and how we can ensure we get the most out of our workouts without compromising our wellbeing.

Effects of Exercise on the Body

Physical activity is important for overall health, but can it make you sick? Exercising can have both positive and negative effects on the body, depending on your current health and the intensity of the workout. This article will discuss the various effects exercise can have on your body, including both the positives and negatives.

Physiological Stress

Exercise is generally considered to be beneficial to overall health and well-being, however, it is important to recognize the potential for exercise to produce physiological stress in the body. High levels of exercise can cause fatigue, muscle and joint soreness, changes in sleep patterns, increased heart rate and breathing rate, increased adrenaline and cortisol levels (the hormone associated with stress), decreased immune system efficiency, higher blood pressure and increased risk of psychological disorders.

Exercising at a moderate intensity level and for no more than an hour a day can balance these physiological effects and have a positive influence on overall health. Additionally, taking active rest days throughout the week can help reduce fatigue by allowing muscles to repair themselves more efficiently. Furthermore, it is important for those engaging in vigorous physical activities to practice proper nutrition habits and adequate hydration before, during and after activities as nutrition plays an important role in fueling the body’s energy systems properly.


When it comes to physical activity, too much of a good thing can lead to negative consequences. Over-exertion is common among those who have recently taken up a new exercise program or significantly increased their workout intensity and intensity. It can also occur in individuals who have not warmed up properly before their workouts or those engaging in activities that exceed their current level of physical fitness.

The effects of over-exertion may vary from person to person and can range from feeling lightheaded, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and muscle pain or soreness. If you experience any signs or symptoms of these issues during a workout, it is important that you immediately stop your activity and rest. Additionally, drinking plenty of water after each workout helps replenish lost fluids in muscles and aids in the recovery process. Be sure to stretch before any activity to help ensure good blood flow throughout muscles while exercising which helps reduce the risk of injury due to overstraining them. Lastly, listen to your body when performing physical activities; if it feels like you’re pushing yourself too hard then take a break until you feel ready for more exercise again.


Just like any activity, there is always a risk of injury with exercise. Injuries can range from mild muscle strain or soreness to more severe sprains, tears, and even fractures. Mild injuries are often associated with beginning an exercise program too quickly or exercising with proper form and technique. Additionally, advancing a program too quickly can lead to overuse injuries or wear and tear on the body over time. To reduce the risk of injury, it is important to take care of the body by stretching before and after workouts, using proper form and technique for each exercise, along with monitoring the heart rate throughout the workout. If any symptoms such as pain or swelling occur during a workout, it is best to discontinue exercising and discuss further with your healthcare provider. Depending on what type of condition exists in the body (such as pre-existing arthritis) certain exercises may be contra-indicated for you; speaking with your doctor will allow you to know what types of exercises are most beneficial for you.

Exercise is beneficial for your overall health and well-being, but it can also make you sick if you are not careful. Certain exercise-related illnesses can occur due to over-exercising, inadequate rest, and improper nutrition. In this section, we will look at some common exercise-related illnesses and what you can do to avoid them.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a common exercise-related illness that occurs due to the body’s inability to properly regulate its temperature. Symptoms can include heavy sweating, dizziness, weakness, confusion, increased heart rate, nausea and headache. It is important to recognize and respond to heat exhaustion as quickly as possible since it can lead to more serious conditions such as heat stroke if left untreated.

Those who are at higher risk for developing heat exhaustion include athletes participating in outdoor sports or activities during hot weather, elderly individuals, those with weakened immune systems, persons engaging in heavy physical labor in high temperatures or humidity conditions, and those with medical conditions such cardiovascular disease or dehydration.

It is important to take preventative steps when exercising outdoors in the summer by wearing light-colored clothing made of lightweight fabrics such as cotton; drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise; taking breaks from activity in shaded areas whenever possible; avoiding alcohol and caffeine-containing drinks which can cause dehydration; and limiting time spent outside during extremely hot days. If you experience any signs of heat exhaustion you should stop exercising immediately and move into a cool area where you can rehydrate with water or electrolyte replacement drinks if necessary.


Dehydration is one of the most common exercise-related illnesses. It occurs when your body is not properly replenished in fluids, leaving you feeling light headed, fatigued, and weak. Strenuous activities can cause fluid losses during sweating which can easily lead to dehydration; it is important to replace lost fluids by drinking plenty of water both before and during exercise sessions. If you are engaged in strenuous activity and feel dizzy, have a dry mouth or dark urine, stop and seek medical attention immediately.

Other signs of dehydration to watch out for include feeling restlessness or fatigue, headaches, nausea and/or vomiting and excessive thirst. To avoid dehydration during exercise session it is important to keep an appropriate snack on hand such as energy gels, energy bars or sports drinks containing electrolytes which will help replenish lost minerals from perspiration. Also be sure to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water each day (more in hot climates) for optimal hydration even if you are not exercising that day.

Cardiac Arrest

One of the most serious illnesses associated with exercise is cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating and is a medical emergency requiring immediate attention. This can happen to anyone regardless of age, physical fitness, or previous health condition. It can occur during or just after vigorous physical activity, which is why it’s important to be aware of any signs or symptoms that could indicate a heart issue such as chest pain or shortness of breath. If someone experiences cardiac arrest while exercising they should be immediately treated with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and an automated external defibrillator (AED). CPR can be given by a bystander who has been trained in its use while an AED may be available in some gyms, schools, workplaces and other public areas which should be used until trained medical personnel arrive. In some cases, further advanced medical treatment such as angioplasty may be required to save the person’s life. To prevent cardiac arrest people should always warm-up and cool-down properly before any type of vigorous activity and aim for gradual increases in intensity level when exercising instead of pushing too hard from the start. Additionally, people should avoid overexerting themselves during exercise and if any signs or symptoms occur such as lightheadedness or chest pain then stop immediately and seek help from trained medical professionals if needed.

Preventative Measures

Working out can be incredibly beneficial for your physical and mental health, but overdoing it can lead to fatigue and illness. To make sure that you’re not putting yourself at risk for illness, it’s important to understand the preventative measures you should take before, during, and after a workout. Here, we’ll discuss the things you can do to ensure that you stay healthy while exercising.

Proper Warm Up and Cool Down

A proper warm up and cool down should be a part of every workout routine. During a warm up, muscles should gradually be prepared for activity by slowly increasing the intensity. This will help getting blood to all the muscles, as well as boosting flexibility and preventing injury. A cooldown also helps reduce the chances of injury and enables the body to have an easier time recovering when stretching is included in part of the routine. Stretching before and after physical activity helps ensure that muscles remain relaxed while they are working out; this reduces muscle tension, stiffness, and soreness following strenuous exercise.

It is important to begin each workout session slowly in order to give your body time for your muscles to warm up and become ready for physical activity. Dynamic stretching exercises such as arm circles, butt kicks and torso twists can help increase your range of motion allowing for a more effective workout; this also helps prevent injuries that may occur from sudden movements such as tears or pulls in his or her muscle fiber complex found from exposure to cold temperatures or non-moving segments of one’s body prior to initiating a workout session . Cooling down after finalizing activity helps regulate the heart rate so that it steadies back into its normal speed while reducing unnecessary elevated levels while exercising. Both deep breathing exercises along with specialized stretches can be incorporated into one’s routine in order to keep relaxed filters open during times on rest which would allow more energy into ones performance post cooling down moment.

Proper Nutrition

Proper nutrition is key to avoiding illness while working out. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables boosts your immune system, giving it the strength it needs to fight off infections. If you exercise on a regular basis, make sure to replenish lost nutrients by increasing your intake of healthy proteins, fiber, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids which all promote good health. Additionally, drinking plenty of water before and after exercising helps remove any toxins from the body and accelerates recovery time. It’s also important to avoid overly processed foods as they are often full of artificial ingredients which can do more harm than good in regards to overall health. Making small adjustments in one’s diet can go a long way in helping prevent illnesses in an active lifestyle.

Adequate Rest

Adequate rest is an important part of any physical activity program. Not enough rest can lead to overtraining and fatigue, which can leave you feeling tired, weak, sore and more vulnerable to infection and injury. When engaging in physical activity, it is essential to balance activity with sufficient recovery time. Recovery periods allow for neuromuscular relaxation as well as adequate sleep, nutrition and hydration — all of which are important for optimal health. Depending on your fitness level, rest days can range from 1-2 days per week or slightly more if you are new to exercise or are coming back from an illness or injury. A general rule of thumb is to listen to your body when deciding the frequency and intensity of your workouts — if you are feeling depleted due to overtraining, it’s best to take a break until you feel adequately recovered.


The bottom line is that too much exercise can temporarily impair your immune system, but engaging in regular exercise is essential for overall health and wellness. Moderate to vigorous activity for 75 to 150 minutes per week has been shown to have many benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, cognitive function and mood. To reduce the risk of being adversely affected by too much exertion, it’s important to make sure you are optimizing your rest and recovery during physical activity. Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep, proper nutrition and hydration, stretching and using proper form when exercising. In addition, consider reducing the amount or intensity of physical activity if you are sick or feeling run-down. Following these precautions will enhance the positive effects of exercise without the associated risks from overtraining.

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