Is It OK to Exercise When Sick?

Is it OK to exercise if I am sick?

The easiest rule to remember is the neck rule. If the symptoms are above the neck, such as those associated with the common cold, exercise of low to moderate intensity is OK. If the symptoms are below the neck such as coughing, body aches, gastrointestinal distress or swollen glands, then rest.

If you think you're in the above-the-neck group, don't try to workout at your normal pace. Many factors are different when you are sick, you may not be hydrated enough, your perception of movement may be off if you're taking any medications, and your reaction time might be slower. If you increase the intensity too much, you prolong or worsen your sickness.

If you are in the below-the-neck group and decide to work out, you should be aware of the possible risks. There are far too many case studies published regarding individuals who have exercised with a fever and ended up with severe dehydration, rhabdomyolysis (a potentially fatal muscle/kidney condition), heat stroke and myocarditis (virus that attacks the heart).

MoreCoping With Illness During Aerobic Training

I have missed a week of training with the flu. How do I start again?

Start slow. Some cases of the flu can leave you inactive for weeks. Once your fever is gone and your nutrition intake is back to normal, then start with a low-intensity workout.

A good rule of thumb is to remain at an intensity level of 4 to 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 (one being the lightest and 10 being very intense). Your workouts shouldn't last longer than 60 minutes. Once you can exercise comfortably for 4 to 7 days without a recurrence of symptoms, you can resume back to your normal routine.

Note: It's always a good idea to check with your doctor before returning to any training program.

More: Quiz: How to Beat the Cold and Flu

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