Is it safe to exercise while sick?

Should you be running around the track if your nose is also running? Regardless of how fit you are or how healthy you eat, there are times you just can’t escape a cold or flu. But is it safe to workout?

The overwhelming research says yes.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reports a ” 25% to 50% decrease in total sick time for active people who complete 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise several days a week.”


Your workouts also offers greater protection from illness

than medications can provide, so jog, run or take frequent walks or get to the gym for your workouts to help avoid colds and flu.

Unfortunately, even with all that exercise you may still get sick, but are you too sick to exercise? That depends on the symptoms and their location:

  • If you catch cold, you can continue with your moderate workout if you don’t have a fever. Moderate workouts like walking or jogging may even help you feel better by relieving your nasal congestion. If your cold symptoms are above the neck, like a runny nose or sore throat, then you should be able to workout if you feel up to it.


  • If your symptoms are primarily below your neck or if your chest is congested, you have a hacking cough, or fever or upset stomach – it may be best to postpone your workout until you recover. Listen to your body and use common sense, if you still want to workout, shorten the duration and decrease the intensity of your workout. Note: If your symptoms get worse when you exercise, stop and rest instead.

To increase your immunity to colds or flu or similar illness:

  • ExerciseModerate exercise will boost your overall health and fitness while increasing your immunity to illness and disease. Exercise combined with a healthy diet will increase your body’s production of macrophages, the cells that attack viruses and bacteria.


  • Sleep – Get six to eight hours of sleep. Restful, uninterrupted sleep promotes a healthy body, while too little sleep puts you at a higher risk for illness or infection. Sleep also maintains healthy hormone levels, human growth hormone, testosterone and cortisol all require rest and sleep and are produced and released during that time.


  • Balanced Diet – Your body needs a healthy balance of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy omega fatty acids. Avoid added sugar as it has many negative affects on your body beyond obesity and type 2 diabetes.