Exercising When Sick

Davey,

I’m home sick with a cold. Is it a good idea to workout when you are sick with a cold or flu? Part of me wonders if the energy expenditure would take away from the immune systems that are working to get rid of it. I’ve recently lost nearly 60 pounds and don’t want to diminish my current fitness level that I’ve worked hard to achieve.

Brenon

Dear Brenon,

First, congratulations on releasing 60 pounds through a healthier lifestyle. That’s fantastic!

To answer your question: STAY HOME! In fact, working out while sick is one of my Top 12 Gym Mistakes. There are two pieces to this.

First, it’s incredibly inconsiderate to your fellow gym goers. The gym is already a breeding ground for nasty germs and bacteria. So, please do us a favor and don’t snot on the dumbbells. Things are already gross enough, thank you.

Second, your body needs the rest. Some people have crazy notions that you can “sweat” out a sickness – but that’s just not how the human body works. The immune system fights the germs internally – it doesn’t push them out through your sweat glands.

Moreover, our immune system is most effective when it is not under stress. Researches have found that even a single exercise session can cause significant stress to the immune system (though, overall, exercise helps build a stronger immune system).

And exercising too soon during recovery can even cause a relapse of the sickness – causing a bigger impact in your exercise program.

Don’t worry about missing a few days at the gym – it won’t be enough to significantly derail your fitness routine. A few days won’t make a difference. The power of exercising is its cumulative effect. It would take several weeks before you noticed a measurable external change in your body.

Whether it’s coughing, aches and pain, fever or even an upset stomach, do your body (and the rest of us) a favor by staying home!

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.

Comments

  1. Thank you Davey. This is also one of my pet peeves. Is it all about me? What about the people you are going to spread your germs to? And the body needs all its strength to fight off a virus. Vigorous exercise is a big stressor on the system. Wait until you feel better.

  2. Davey, I appreciate that you’ve supported your answer with research. Great job. Now I’m about to stray away from research and make an observation of my own: if you are consuming a protein supplement on a regular basis, keep it up even when you’re sick. The immune system relies on protein to build pathogen-killing cells. I’ve found that since Jan 2010 when I started consuming a daily helping of whey protein, I have gotten only one cold and it lasted a very short 2 days. That’s just an anectdote though…not scientific evidence.

    • Even when you are sick, your muscles still need protein for maintenance. It’s okay to stick with protein even when you’re under the weather.

  3. Neglecting a cold lead to a pneumonia in my case when i hit the gym after just a one week break. ๐Ÿ™

    To take your break!

  4. Lower key exercising can often assist with your recovery. I find swimming in particular helps me get over being sick quicker as does some low key walking.