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Should You Sweat It Out? Exercising While Sick

Should You Sweat It Out? Exercising While Sick

We’ve all woken up feeling completely run down, but it can be tough to take a break when we have developed such a solid workout routine. Many of us will opt to push through our workout even though we would rather be curled up in bed. A speedy recovery is always the goal when we are sick. Does working out help that recovery?

The Above the Neck Rule

There are certain situations where “sweating out the sickness” is perfectly acceptable. Most experts suggest the "above the neck" rule to help determine if it is safe to exercise. 

If you are experiencing symptoms above the neck, you are probably okay to workout. However, if you have symptoms below the neck, then you should hold off on exercising until the symptoms subside.

When Is It Safe to Workout?

In general, if you have an earache, stuffy nose, mild sore throat, you are probably in the clear to exercise, but it’s always important to listen to your body. If you feel like you need to take it easy, then take a day off. There is no harm in giving yourself a much-needed break. 

If you find yourself out of breath during your normal workout routine, try decreasing the intensity or duration of the workout.

When Is It Unsafe to Workout?

If you are experiencing a fever, stomach bug, or flu-like symptoms, you should not be working out. Not only can you delay your recovery, but these illnesses can spread very easily, especially in an environment like the gym.

Before you rush back to exercising, make sure your body has completely recovered, even if you are out of your normal routine for an extended period of time. As your symptoms begin to disappear, gradually begin to introduce more exercise into your day, without overdoing it.

Stay Hydrated!

When you are sick, it is critical to stay extra hydrated, but this becomes especially important if you choose to workout. In addition to drinking water, you should consume beverages such as Pedialyte to keep your electrolytes up.

While some sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade do contain electrolytes, you may want to think twice before having one while you are sick. These drinks contain high levels of sugar, which may lead to more unwanted symptoms.

There are certain times when pushing through a minor illness can help you feel better, but there are other situations where it will just set you back and make you feel worse. While many people fear being out of the gym and their daily routine, taking the proper time to recover from sickness is better for you in the long run. 

These are suggestions on when it’s safe to work out and when it isn’t. Listening to your body and following your doctor’s advice is the best way to ensure a speedy recovery.

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