Training While Sick

You are waking up to your morning alarm. It’s time to exercise. You have packed your gym bag yesterday and you have your pink Himalayan salt ready on the kitchen table. However, something is off. You are freezing although your room is as warm as ever. You have caught a cold. Should you train regardless?

You are waking up to your morning alarm. It’s time to exercise. You have packed your gym bag yesterday and you have your pink Himalayan salt ready on the kitchen table. However, something is off. You are freezing although your room is as warm as ever. You have caught a cold. Should you train regardless?

If it is a common cold, the symptoms should not be that severe. This means that you should be able to exercise even while sneezing every three minutes. Nevertheless, if you are feeling pain on almost every part of your body, exercise is not something that your body needs at the moment. When sick, your body needs to rest in order to heal itself and recover. This means rest and sleep.

There is a common guideline regarding training when sick, known as “the neck rule”. This guideline says that you should not exercise if your symptoms extend below the neck. While this may be a good rule of thumb, take it with a pinch of salt. Even if your only symptom may be a headache, the headache may be sufficiently strong to disallow safe training.

The best way to decide if you should exercise or not is to judge by yourself while keeping “the neck rule” in mind. What if you, for example, have body ache but feel okay otherwise? Should you train then? Probably. Again, it all depends on the severity of the symptoms, and only you are able to judge the severity yourself and no one else.

What is the worse that could happen if you exercise when sick? In most cases, nothing serious. Your recovery from sickness could be impacted and there is a slightly higher chance of injury due to accident. If you have the mindset to go and exercise even when you feel terrible, you most probably have the mindset to make a new PR on the very same day.

Even if you feel too sick to make new PRs, some lighter exercise could even enhance your recovery. The following statement is not fact, but rather an opinion: if you are healthy enough to sit by your computer all day long, you are healthy enough to exercise. Being sick should never be an excuse to abstain from training.

/Milos Askovic

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