Is it possible to work out with a flu or cold? It Depends


Sometimes it’s not motivation that’s a problem when you work out. You’re committed to a fitness regime, you’re following a strict diet, and you’re highly motivated. However, sometimes the roadblock comes in the way of a small illness such as the flu or cold. For some, these illnesses can render them unable to work out. The question is, should you at all? Let’s find out.

Given that you were highly motivated before becoming sick, it can be a real bummer if a hurdle such as illness comes along the way in your fitness journey. It’s a tough decision whether to skip the gym or not because one side is your health, you need to be at 100% to get a good workout in. However, skipping gym can break the whole momentum you create for yourself and regaining that tempo can be hard, some never gain it back.

Image: Young and Raw
Image: Young and Raw

Therefore, it’s a really tough decision whether to skip the gym or not when you’re ill. The answer really depends on you, your willpower, and condition. If your condition is not looking good, then it’s best to skip a few days and rest. However, if it’s not looking that bad and you have the willpower to push through, then go for it. Let’s talk about this in more detail.

When to NOT work out

There are different symptoms associated with a cold or flu. Each symptom has its own level of severity. Some are more troublesome and painful than the others and they can really make your life a living hell. What types of symptoms are these? Symptoms such as coughing, falling short of breath, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, or even joint-aches are associated with illnesses such as cold or flu.

These symptoms are as serious as you get. Having dealt with them personally, I once tried to work out with them. I had just finished my warm-up yet I was sweating and breathing as I had just finished a sprint. You also feel less energetic and each set gets progressively worse. Simply put: one should NOT work out with these type of symptoms.

The symptoms described above have a chance to lead to an even bigger illness/infection. Therefore, it’s best to go to the doctor, get some medicine, and rest for a few days before hitting the weights again. Working out in this condition will be futile and you’ll only be jeopardizing yourself for further illness.

Image: Shangwuwi
Image: Shangwuwi

When is it OK to work out?

If you have lighter symptoms such as regular sneezing, a sore throat, or congestion, then it’s possible to still work out even with your symptoms. The symptoms can be suppressed easily using medicine just before a workout to provide quick relief which lasts for the duration of your workout.

However, it’s recommended that you don’t go ahead with your usual routine. Not only will you be feeling less energetic, but keep in mind you still need to recover. Therefore, change up your exercise routine a little temporarily. Avoid big, taxing lifts for the body and lower the weights a little. Instead, go for a higher number of reps and take longer breaks in between each set.

If you’re someone who works out really intense, then dial the intensity a bit down for now. Also, since you’ll be full of germs and the dumbbells/plates you use will also contain germs, it’s advisable to regularly wash your hands while you work out. Try to wear workout gloves so that you won’t get your germs to anyone else nor will you receive any.

Working out can in fact, sometimes speed up the recovery from illness. However, keep in mind that you’re only allowed light activity IF you have a lighter condition. If it’s more serious, then it’s a big no. Good luck!



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Olivia Parker

Parker holds a masters in computer science, but her love for movies and everything that goes into making them forced her to divert her strength to entertainment world. She has been interviewed a number of celebrities in her previous jobs.


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