Should You Weight Train When You Are Sick?

training while sick

When your workouts are going well and you are struck down with an illness, it is often a conundrum as to whether you should train when you are sick.

There is conflicting advice out there and it can be tough to know when you’re too sick to train.

This article will help you sort out when it’s safe to train and what dangers you face by training when you are sick.

Sometimes it is o.k. to train while you are sick, but exercising when you are not well, can make you end up sicker than when you started out.

When I was younger, I would train come hell or high water and beleive me, I could have had the West Nile virus and I would find time to go to the gym.

Every time I did this, I managed to make myself worse. It took me a couple of years but I learned - It's better to stay home and get rest, rather than to risk more sickness.

First off, if your doctor tells you that you are too sick or on medication, that restricts your activity, you need to follow his or her orders. If you’re told to rest and limit your activity, then you need to stay out of the gym!

In addition, most illnesses are very contagious. Be kind to your fellow gym patrons and keep your germs at home instead of spreading them all over the gym equipment. Stay home until you believe you are no longer infectious and are feeling well enough to exercise.

Remember that when you exercise, your body responds by raising your heart rate, burning fat and carbs more quickly than usual, raising your core temperature, and sweating. Essentially, the demands for many of your body’s resources increase significantly.

When you are weak from illness, exercising can tax an already maxed out body. If you have a fever, where your core temperature is already elevated, the last thing you want to do is exercise and increase that core temperature even further.

Common Cold – If you are suffering from the sniffles, mild sore throat or headache but generally feel well and have energy, then you should be able to continue training. Take an honest look at your energy levels, if you are tired, then rest, do not go to the gym. You may want to opt for a light cardio workout instead of weight training.

Most doctors say it is o.k. to train during a mild cold, but if you have a fever or if it moves into your chest – then you need to reevaluate. I would have to say that you should stay home and rest. Now, you will also have to remember your fellow weight trainers when you do go to the gym with a cold. I know, I don’t like anyone around me when they have a cold. The last thing I need is a cold so keep that in mind when you are thinking of going to the gym when you are a little under the weather.

The Flu – Many people have a difficult time differentiating between the common cold and the flu. The biggest difference is that viruses known as

Influenza A or Influenza B cause the flu. When you have the flu, your body is taxed far more than when you have a common cold. In this scenario, you should not weight train. Weight training could be detrimental to your health and muscle growth due to its catabolic nature. Basically, if you train while you have the flu, you will become sicker.

Nausea – If you are nauseous or have any kind of stomach virus, please do not train. Stomach issues are very taxing to your system and you need to give your body a proper amount of rest before resuming your training.

Now that you know some of the rules of thumb related with common illnesses, there is a quick and simple way to evaluate whether you should train when you’re sick. The neck check involves evaluating where your symptoms are located.

If they are above the neck like a headache, irritated throat and/or the sniffles, go ahead and exercise at a lower intensity. If you feel nauseous or dizzy, stop exercising immediately and rest.

If your symptoms are below the neck like nausea, cramps, achy muscles, fever or coughing, you need to skip your workout and get rest. If you were to exercise with these symptoms, you are using your body’s resources to train rather than fighting the illness. As stated previously, you could end up sicker and take longer to recover.

Probably one of the best things you can do for your body is to try to prevent these common illnesses in the first place. If your body’s resources are lacking, you will have a difficult time fighting off those germs. Here’s just a few quick and easy tips to help keep your body in the best form possible for avoiding illness.

- Eat a balanced diet, getting proper levels of protein, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. Limit fats, refined sugar and white flour because they can actually lower your immune system functioning.

- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is devastating to your immune system. Aim for at least seven to nine hours every night.

- Avoid overtraining. Overtraining your body can deplete your resources making you susceptible to illness.

Next time you are sick, be sure to honestly evaluate how you are feeling. If you do decide to train, go at a lower intensity and stop if you are feeling more ill. And please, don’t train if you are too sick, there are no benefits and many potential dangers.

All the best,


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