If you’re sick but still want to work out, ask yourself one question: are your symptoms above or below your neck?
Should you workout if your symptoms are above your neck?
For symptoms isolated above the neck – think the congestion, sore throat or sneezing that come with a common cold – you can continue light or moderate activity.
Try taking a non-drowsy decongestant to help fight your symptoms.
If your energy levels feel good enough, you can head to the gym: just dial back the intensity of your workout.
For instance, if you were set to do some sprints, try jogging instead. Or if you’re lifting that day, dial back your weight and up your reps, and be sure to take longer rest breaks than usual between your sets.
Think of your fellow gym-goers, too: make sure you wash your hands, wipe down your equipment after use and cough or sneeze into your shoulder rather than your hand to reduce the risk of spreading your germs.
If you start to feel worse, take down your intensity a notch or end your workout early, so you don’t make your sickness worse.
And get back to your normal routine gradually: diving back into intense exercise – especially when you’re not feeling 100 percent – can suppress your immune system and thus slow your recovery.
Should you workout if your symptoms are below your neck?
If your symptoms are below the neck – coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea – or system-wide (fever or aching joints) then you should flat-out skip your workout.
These symptoms can point to a more serious infection.
Plus, not only will you likely not be able to tolerate your normal routine, but attempting it could put you at risk for respiratory problems, dehydration, dizziness or even passing out.
Sometimes a rest day is the smart option – not the lazy one.