Working Out When Sick

Working Out When Sick

Some of my best ever weight workouts have been when I was sick.  Somehow, the misery of the cold seems to allow me to disconnect from the world and focus harder on my workout.  When should you workout and when should you stay home and have hot soup?  First, we have to realize that “sick” can encompass a whole lot of territory.  For the sake of simplicity, lets divide the world into three parts: common colds, the flu, and everything else.

  • Common cold  – runny nose, sneezing, cough, headache, sore throat.
  • Flu – fever, cough, sore throat, aches and pains in muscles and joints, chills
  • Everything else – mono, pneumonia, etc

First rule of Scooby: No working out with a fever!

If you have a fever, your body is busy fighting off an infection and the last thing it needs to do is try and deal with repairing lots of micro-tears in your muscles as well.  If you have a fever then either go to the doctor or stay home and drink lots of fluids.

What about colds.  We all have a lot of experience with colds and you know what a cold feels like.  If its just a common cold then go ahead and workout.  Working out helps keep you healthy!  The only downside is that everyone at the gym will hate you.  Try your best to avoid touching your face during your workout to avoid giving the cold to everyone else.  If you are coughing and sneezing a lot, consider doing a bodyweight workout at home so as not to pass it on to the entire gym membership.  As I have said already, some of my best ever workouts have been when I have had colds.  Not only weight workouts but cardio workouts as well.  Cardio does an amazing job at clearing up congestion.  I have started bike rides not able to breath thru my nose at all because it was so clogged up and come back completely clear.  Nothing like cardio to loosen things up and clear the lungs out!  This is a lot more sanitary to do outdoors than inside at the gym if you get my drift.

What if its not a common cold nor the flu, should you work out?  No!  You should go to the doctor and find out what is wrong with you!  No, you dont need to run to the doctor every time you sneeze but if its not like a cold and its not the flu then its worth figuring out what is wrong.  Example from personal experience here.  When I filmed the below video I had been sick for 3 days, it seemed like a garden variety cold so I continued to workout although I wasnt able to push it like I normally can during a cold … that was my first sign something was different.  On the 5th day my cough got worse and it was clear that something very non-cold like was going on in my lungs … so I went to the doctor.  Sure enough, not a cold, it was bronchitis – aint nobody got time for that!