I spent the entire weekend in bed with the stomach bug from hell after missing out on a LOT of sleep in the past week. Did I workout? Hells no! I rested, drank fluids, and spent time watching Buffy and Veronica Mars marathons. My kitties were incredibly upset at my absence and I owe them a kitty cuddle movie night, but I badly needed the rest. No workouts for me!
Whether or not you should workout when you’re sick depending on a few things:
- What the illness is and its symptoms
- How severe the illness is
- The type of workout you’re looking to do
Here’s the problem: the same system that helps your body to fight off a cold or a bug is the same system aids in recovery during and after a workout. To tax it would be the same thing as overtraining and would produce the same results. It would also potentially prolong the illness and make it even worse.
If you’re fighting allergies and/or sinus issues, I’ve found that getting the blood circulating helps to clear the passageways and boost the immune system. The key is to listen to your body and not overdo it. I used to spend all winter with sinus and ear infections until I began working out regularly, now I hardly get them at all. I now average getting sick only 1-2 times per year as opposed to several times, especially during the winter. So exercising can be a preventive measure as well provided you are NOT overtraining and are taking care of yourself, getting plenty of rest, etc.
However, if you have a genuine bug with a fever, vomiting, upset stomach, GI issues, etc., you are far better off taking a rest day or two and going easy on yourself. I had a temperature of 101 and the bathroom became a frequent companion, which meant no, no, no workouts. None. I burned all of 1500 calories on Saturday by lying down all day and I had to suck it. So must you!
I am personally the sort of individual that once I get run down for any reason for a few days: lack of sleep, stress, etc I can pretty much expect that if I don’t nip it in the bud soon, my immune system will be compromised and my chance of illness is heightened. So get your zzz’s, take a rest day every so often–even if it’s an active rest day that involves walking or yoga–and remember that rest and recovery is just as important as working out.
I’ll leave you all with this handy image of a list of when NOT to workout, when it is okay, and what forms are good: