Is It Safe to Work Out While Sick? We Ask the Experts

Anju Mobin - Writer for Trim Down Club
By Anju Mobin
Davor Štefanović - Editor for Trim Down Club
Edited by Davor Štefanović

Published May 15, 2023.

A woman gently exercising at home, symbolizing low-impact workouts one can do while feeling unwell

You've been working out regularly, and you're eager to stick to your fitness plans and reach your health goals. But you find yourself feeling under the weather. Navigating through illness while maintaining your fitness routine can be challenging. Should you push through or take a break? Is it bad to work out while sick?

The answer, as it turns out, largely depends on your symptoms and the nature of your ailment. Intense exercise can make your symptoms worse and prolong your recovery, while light exercise is probably fine and might even aid in recovery.

How to Work Out When You're Sick

While 'below the neck' symptoms call for rest, you can usually safely exercise if your symptoms are 'above the neck,' like a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, or a minor sore throat.

However, if you have a contagious illness, you should avoid exercising in public places like the gym to prevent spreading the infection.

If you're down with a common cold, but no fever, then moderate physical activity is usually fine. But you should consider reducing the intensity and duration of your workout.

Fitness tip:

Hydrate! When you're unwell, you lose more fluids, especially if you have a fever, are sweating a lot, or are blowing your nose frequently. It's important to replace these fluids to help your body recover.

» Learn how exercise can boost your confidence

Low-Impact Exercises for Sick Days

When it comes to staying active while feeling unwell, choosing the right type of exercise is crucial. Rather than pushing your body through intense, high-impact workouts, consider these gentler, low-impact activities that can keep you moving without overtaxing your system.

Swimming: A Refreshing Choice

Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular workout that puts minimal stress on your joints. If your symptoms are mild and you're not dealing with congestion, swimming can be a great way to maintain your fitness levels. However, avoid chlorinated pools if they irritate your symptoms, and always ensure you're not at risk of spreading your illness in a public pool.

Walking or Light Jogging: Keep Moving

Depending on your energy levels, a brisk walk or light jog can be an easy way to stay active without overexerting yourself. These activities can stimulate your immune system, potentially aiding your recovery. Plus, if you're able to get outdoors, the fresh air can often help clear your head and improve your mood.

Dance: A Rhythmic Workout

Dancing is a fun and enjoyable way to keep moving when you're feeling unwell. You can do it at home, and it can help lift your spirits and distract you from discomfort. Choose easy movements that don't put undue pressure on your joints, and always remember to listen to your body—if you start to feel worse, it's time to rest.

Yoga: Calm and Controlled

Yoga is not just a physical workout; it's also a way to calm your mind and reduce stress, which can be beneficial when you're feeling unwell. Opt for slower, low-impact yoga styles, like Hatha yoga, known for its stress-relieving moves and focus on breath control. It's crucial, however, to avoid any hot yoga styles, as these could raise your body temperature and exacerbate symptoms.

Did you know?

Certain yoga poses can open up your chest and nasal passages, which can be helpful if you're feeling congested.

The 7-Minute Workout: A Home Fitness Solution

TDC's 7-minute workout is a versatile option for those days when you're not feeling your best. It's an adaptable, short, low-impact routine that you can do in the comfort of your home, reducing the risk of spreading or catching any germs in a public gym. The beauty of this workout is its flexibility—you can adjust the intensity to suit how you're feeling on any given day.

» Remember to hydrate while working out

Turning Setbacks into Comebacks

Feeling under the weather doesn't necessarily mean forfeiting your fitness routine. A common cold or mild sore throat doesn't have to deter you from achieving your fitness goals.

If you're seeking a quick, effective workout that can be done even when feeling unwell, TDC's 7-minute workout is an effective option. This routine can seamlessly fit into your busiest days due to its brevity and simplicity. In a mere seven minutes, you can complete a full-body workout targeting all major muscle groups, offering maximum results in minimal time.