Is It Bad to Workout When You Are Sick?

We all know that feeling when you just don’t feel well and you’re debating whether or not to workout. Here’s what you need to know about working out when you’re sick.


Every person’s body reacts differently when it comes to exercising while sick. While some people may choose to take a break from their normal workout routine until they feel better, others prefer to keep exercising. Some believe it will boost their immunity, while other believe it is unnecessary and unhealthy. To ensure that you make the right decision for your health, it is important to understand the benefits and risks associated with working out while sick.

Benefits of Working Out When You Are Sick

Working out when you are sick can have many benefits, depending on the severity of your illness. Exercise can help to boost your immune system and increase your overall energy levels. It can also help to alleviate any aches and pains that you may be feeling from your illness. In this article, we will look at the benefits of working out when you are sick and discuss when it might be best to avoid exercise.

Boosts Immunity

When you exercise while sick, it can actually help to boost your body’s immune system and help you fight the virus even faster. Studies have shown that regular exercise can increase the production of infection-fighting cells in the body thus helping to protect against viruses such as colds and flus. Keep in mind, however, that if you feel too weak due to illness do not push yourself too hard.

A moderate amount of exercise on a regular basis helps keep your immune system strong. The endorphins released during this type of low impact workout will also help boost your mood and energy levels; thus helping to provide an added boost that could aid in recovery from being ill. The increased circulation generated by working out when sick also helps deliver essential nutrients and oxygen throughout your body, giving it additional support while fighting off illness.

Improves Mood

Working out when you have a cold or some other type of infection can actually help your mood. Exercise boosts endorphins, which can improve your overall mood and help you feel more energized. Additionally, being physically active also reduces stress levels and helps to relax the body. Working out while sick can even lead to feelings of increased wellbeing as it helps to take the mind off the discomfort of illness symptoms and provide some light-hearted entertainment. Of course, it is important to know your limits and avoid overexertion when sick so that you do not exacerbate any underlying conditions.

Reduces Stress

It is common to have mixed feelings about working out when you are sick, but research has actually found that exercise can be beneficial in reducing stress levels. The body produces hormones called endorphins when we are active, which help to reduce the amount of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline in the body. This can result in a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing, as well as reducing soreness and inflammation. Working out when you are sick can be extremely beneficial for stress management, as it allows you to focus on something positive instead of thinking about your symptoms or worrying about how long it will take to recover. Additionally, regular physical activity can help strengthen the immune system over time, giving your body better defense against future illnesses.

Risks of Working Out When You Are Sick

Working out when you are sick can be a tricky situation. While some mild exercise can be beneficial for you, it can also put you at risk for further harm if you are already ill. It is important to be aware of the risks associated with this, so you can make the best decision for yourself. Let’s take a look at the potential risks of working out when you are sick.


Dehydration is a serious risk of working out while ill. Symptom-related sweating, vomiting, and/or usage of medication can increase your risk for dehydration. Your immune system needs water to fight the illness, and if you are exercising when sick, your body may not have enough available water to fight off the illness efficiently. If you are dehydrated and unable to replenish lost fluids due to nausea or other symptom-related issues, consider discussing other potential treatments — such as rest and fluids — with a medical professional. Additionally, if you are having symptoms of dehydration when trying to exercise while sick, it is important that you cease all physical activity and seek medical help immediately.

Worsening Symptoms

Exercising when you are sick increases the risk of complications that can worsen your symptoms. As your body works to fight off the infection, it is important to rest and conserve energy. When you exercise, there is added physical stress placed on your heart, lungs, and other organs as they must work harder to circulatory oxygen and fuel around the body. This can further weaken you during an illness and may prevent you from recovering quickly. It can also increase inflammation in the body, potentially aggravating symptoms such as a sore throat or chest congestion. Additionally, exercising when you are ill puts surrounding individuals at risk of contracting the same infection due to making more contact with equipment or surfaces in public areas such of gym centers or outdoor running tracks.

Spread of Infection

Working out when you’re sick may put other gym-goers at risk. Respiratory illnesses such as colds, sore throats, and flu can spread easily in places like gyms when exercising. People who are sick may be at risk of infecting others if they don’t take precautions, such as covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and washing their hands frequently with soap and water or a hand sanitizer. Also, gym equipment should be wiped down with an alcohol-based cleaner before and after use for added protection against the spread of germs.

It’s especially important to avoid working out if you have bacterial infections like strep throat or other kinds of contagious illnesses that could be passed to different people using the same equipment. Furthermore, some studies suggest that exercise may put extra strain on the body’s immune system while fighting off an infection, making recovery more difficult or even prolonging symptoms.

When to Avoid Working Out

No one wants to have the sniffles, a scratchy throat and feel tired while trying to complete their regular workout routine. When illness strikes, it’s important to consider whether working out while sick is a good idea. Many people decide to “power through” their workout regardless of the sickness symptoms they may be experiencing, but it isn’t always the best decision.

Before deciding whether or not you should work out when you are sick it is important to understand which symptoms and illnesses can be made worse by exercise. Any upper respiratory infection such as a cold or flu-like illness should not be treated with exercise. If your body temperature is elevated during workouts you can also make your condition worse and increase recovery time instead of decreasing it.

When experiencing any cold or flu–like symptoms such as fever, headache, cough or congestion it’s best to avoid exercise until these symptoms clear up and energy levels have returned to normal. Working out while sick could worsen an existing condition and create more serious issues than benefits. In addition, viruses can be spread more easily when exercising in close contact with others at a gym or other health facility.

When answering the question “Is it bad to work out when you are sick” the overall consensus is that mild activity that does not put strain on muscles may be suitable for some people if their only symptom is mild fatigue; however, any type of upper respiratory condition should not include any kind of rigorous activity that could worsen an already existing physical state. It’s always best practice to speak with your physician before beginning an activity regimen if you are feeling unwell or unsure about your physical state prior so that both conditions do not become complicating factors for each other.


Ultimately, the decision to workout when you are sick is a personal one. The best course of action is to listen to your body’s cues and decide whether or not a workout is in your best interest. If exercise will make you feel worse or exacerbate any symptoms you already have, then it’s best to rest instead.

When deciding whether or not it is safe for you to exercise while sick, it’s important to remember that everyone reacts differently and there are many factors to consider. Speak with your doctor if you have any concerns regarding your health and consult with a physical therapist or personal trainer if you’re unsure about which exercises are suitable while feeling unwell. Taking these precautions can help ensure that you remain healthy, even during illness.

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