I’m Sick. Should I Skip My Workout?

You’ve finally gotten into a groove””going to the gym every day, eating right, feeling good about your progress. Then it happens. You get sick. And as you cope with a steadily worsening cough, runny nose and sore throat, you start to battle with yourself: I can still exercise! I’m not that sick. I should stick to my routine. Right?

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Not always. If you’re sure that the bug you’ve caught is just a common cold, it’s safe to continue working out. In fact, it might even help you feel better. Engaging in physical activity can help clear your nasal passages and release adrenalin (epinephrine), which acts as a natural decongestant.

Although exercising won’t shorten the duration of a particular cold, people who exercise regularly tend to get well quicker and experience less severe symptoms when sickness hits.

If symptoms start to head south, however, showing up as stomach issues, or you’ve developed a fever or muscle pain, it’s best to rest and let your body recover. Refer to this guide when in doubt:


  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Scratchy throat

Continue exercise at low intensity levels.


  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Sore muscles
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Exercise is not recommended. Resume more intense physical activity when symptoms have cleared.

Even though it may be OK to work out when you’re not feeling 100%, take care not to expose others to your illness. The best option may be to work out at home; but if you choose to go to the gym, wipe down all equipment after using it (which should be done anyway, sick or not).   If your gym doesn’t supply cleaning materials, bring your own wipes.

Remember, the best way to avoid illness is prevention:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Avoid rapid weight loss
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Wash  and sanitize your hands frequently
  • Avoid placing hands near your eyes, nose or mouth

NPC National Figure competitor Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Learn more about Melissa in this recent RXMuscle.com spotlight article, connect with her on Facebook or email her at melissatransou@yahoo.com.


About Mrs. Fitness

IFBB figure professional Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Email her at melissatransou@yahoo.com.

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9 comments on «I’m Sick. Should I Skip My Workout?»

  1. Liz Lotts says:

    This is great info! After traveling for the holidays, I came down with a cold (of course!). It lingered for a good 2 weeks. I let up on my training a bit; still doing the same amount of exercise but less intense. Then, last Wednesday I had a tough 7 miles of speed work on the track. I was blowing my nose after every mile (sorry for the gross factor). The good news is I felt much better after that workout. I had basically cleared my head of the lingering congestion and was 100% by the weekend! :-) Amazing what exercise can do!

    1. mrs. fitness says:

      That’s great info too Liz, sometimes we do need to just push through and then we feel better!

  2. Brenna says:

    This is a great question, and the answer is ‘no’! As much as you might not feel like going to the gym, working out actually helps us heal faster. Just be sure to wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze, etc.

    1. Jake says:

      OMG!!! i LOVEEEE vitacost! I just reecived my coconut oil- $4.40, rosewater- $5.65, and peppermint oil- $4.77 with shipping all for 19.81!! I swear this site is awesome!! I went to whole foods to get some peppermint oil and it was about 19 bucks! man Vitacost is awesome!

  3. Brenna says:

    For the ladies- it’s also really good for menstrual cramps. Even though you want to curl up in a ball and cry, get dressed and hit the gym! It works every time!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I like to still do some kind of workout, whether it be squats, lunges, leg lifts or just walking. I just dont overdo it on those days.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I also forgot to add I make sure to eat even healthier on those days as well as great great multivitamins and supplements in.

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