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Benefits And Risks Of Working Out When Sick

When you’re under the weather, it’s natural to wonder if you should continue your workout routine or take a break to rest and recover. While exercise can boost your immune system and improve your overall health, listening to your body and adjusting your workout routine based on your symptoms is important.

In this article, we’ll explore the risks and benefits of working out while sick and provide some guidelines to help you decide whether or not to exercise.

The Risks of Working Out While Sick

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When you’re sick, your body is already under stress as it tries to fight off infection and heal itself. Working out can add stress to your body, making it harder to recover. Exercise can sometimes worsen your symptoms, especially if you have a respiratory infection or fever. Here are some of the risks associated with working out while sick:

Compromised Immune System

When you’re sick, your immune system works overtime to fight off infection. Adding the stress of exercise to your body can further weaken your immune system, making it harder to recover.

Spread of Infection

If you’re contagious, working out in a public gym or group fitness class can increase the risk of spreading the infection to others. It’s important to stay home and avoid contact with others until you’re no longer contagious.


Fever and respiratory infections can lead to dehydration, which exercise can worsen. Working out while dehydrated can put additional stress on your body and make it harder to recover.

Increased Risk of Injury

When you’re sick, your body is weakened, which can increase the risk of injury during exercise. You may also be more fatigued and less coordinated, making maintaining proper form and technique harder.

The Benefits of Working Out While Sick

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While certain risks are associated with working out while sick, there are also some potential benefits. Here are a few reasons why you might consider exercising while you’re feeling under the weather:

Boosts Immune System

Exercise can boost your immune system by increasing the production of antibodies and white blood cells. This can help your body fight off infection and speed up healing.

Mood Booster

Exercise releases endorphins, which can help improve your mood and reduce stress. This can be especially beneficial when you’re under the weather and need a mental boost.

Maintains Routine

If you exercise regularly, taking a break from your routine can be difficult. Working out while sick can help you maintain your routine and prevent you from losing momentum.

Improves Respiratory Function

Light exercises, such as walking or gentle yoga, can help improve respiratory function and alleviate symptoms of congestion or coughing.

When is it Safe to Work Out While Sick?

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Whether or not it’s safe to work out while sick depends on a few factors, including the type of illness you have, the severity of your symptoms, and your overall health. Here are some general guidelines to help you decide whether or not to exercise:

Mild Cold or Flu Symptoms

Exercising at a lower intensity is usually safe if you have mild cold or flu symptoms, such as a runny nose, sore throat, or mild cough. Stick to gentle activities like walking, yoga, or light strength training, and avoid high-intensity cardio or heavy lifting.


If you have a fever, staying home and resting until your fever has subsided is important. Exercise can increase body temperature, worsen symptoms, and delay recovery.

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