Working Out When You’re Sick

21 Mar

The sniffles have hit me, and I’ve been a little bummed this week.  I was feeling like things were really moving great with my running and P90X.  Although I’m not terribly sick, it does leave me a little weaker and whinier than usual (as Adam will attest).  This morning I woke up knowing that plyometrics was waiting for me, and I considered postponing it due to my little cold.  Though I soon realized if I start shuffling things around, workouts will get complicated (see tip #2, don’t postpone when training for a half and doing P90X).  I also realized that I’m in the ‘sick zone’ where I can still workout.  I’m also still in the zone where working out would probably do me some good.


How I Decide

It’s tricky to know when you’re too sick to work out.  These are a couple questions I ask myself when I’m thinking I might be too sick:

  1. Do I have a fever?  
    • Usually this is a huge red flag for me not to work out.  If I even have a high temperature I am leery.  A fever indicates to me that my body is really fighting something. If my body is working that hard to overcome something I probably shouldn’t be spending energy on a workout.
  2. Am I going to work?
    • If I’m so sick that I’m willing to trade in a vacation day for a sick day (all my PTO is combined), then I’m probably not well enough to workout.
  3. Am I in a lot of pain?
    • If I’m in so much pain that I’m souped up on meds…working out is probably not on my to-do list.
  4. Am I contemplating going to the doctor?
    • If I’m willing to spend the money and time to go to the doctor, I probably shouldn’t be working out.

If I pass all of those questions but am still feeling a little under the weather, I probably am okay to try and workout.  Getting more blood pumping through your body’s veins allows you to get rid of more toxins more quickly.  Often when I’m feeling a little lethargic, my first thought is to go for a light jog.  Sweating and getting my body moving tends to make me feel a lot better.  Additionally, being able to say, “You’re not too sick to workout – you survived that run,” is a huge boost for me.  It stops me from going into whiny “I’m sick” mode.

So far I’m just a little sick, so I will keep pushing through this cold.  If it gets worse I will have to reevaluate my game plan.

Exertion When Sick

One major difference when I’m sick is my exertion level.  If I’m sick, the workout is the goal.  Just get it in. This is a major change from my usual mentality of pushing it.  In P90X I’m trying to push my reps and weight, and while running I’m pushing my pace.  Today I was just happy to complete my workouts.  When sick, getting them done is a huge success.

Articles and Resources to Help You Decide

Because I’m not an MD or health professional, here are a couple articles to help you decide when to push it and when to take a nap!

To Sum it Up:

Working out can make you feel better if you’ve got a mild cold.  Intense workouts or working out when sick from the neck down can cause more harm than good.  Consult your doctor when considering working out while sick.

Here’s to hoping this cold clears up soon!


Note: I am not an MD or healthcare professional. The opinions above are mine only and should not be used as professional advice or council.

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