Working Out: In Sickness and in Health

A participant in one of my classes sent me the following question:

Is it possible that working out while I was sick made me feel worse? After class on Monday I tried to pound the water and get to bed early, but woke up with a fever on Tuesday morning… sweats, chills, body aches! I’m a little better today, but still not great. Is it possible that it made the bug I had a little more intense and maybe I should have opted for resting rather than trying to still get in a workout?

I’m not an expert on this subject so I Googled the answer. From what I found, the general rule of thumb is that it’s ok to work out with a little cold as long as you are not contagious (duh!) and keep the workout light. It’s not a good idea to workout if you have a fever or nausea (for obvious reasons).

Here’s what I found on CNN.com:

“Experts like to cite a rule of thumb known as the “neck rule.” If your symptoms are all located above your neck (stuffy nose, scratchy throat, headache), you almost certainly have a head cold and can hit the road or treadmill safely. If, on the other hand, you have a fever, congestion in your chest and lungs, or feel achy, it is probably a sign of flu, bronchitis, or another more serious ailment, and you should rest up. (Exercising with a fever will make you more vulnerable to dehydration, among other ill effects.) “

The workout we did probably didn’t “intensify” her sickness directly. She was most likely heading toward fever etc. regardless of her workout. However, now that she has a fever she needs to get as much rest as possible.

Keeping mind the “neck rule”, it’s really up to you as an individual whether you should work out with a head cold. However, if you are wheezing, dripping or coughing you won’t be the only one feeling uncomfortable, your fellow gym goers will be too. I’ve taught classes with a cold but it’s my job. If I had my choice, I’d most likely be lying on my couch instead.


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