Myth buster: Does exercising when sick, help me get better?

November 2, 2016



There’s a lot of misconception about whether to exercise or to not exercise, when sick. Many people believe that a workout will make them feel better.


I guess as a fitness advocate the thing that I probably should be saying is, ‘oh yes, keep on training! It’s fine’.


But to be honest, with my client’s best interest at heart: it’s not. I think if you’ve got a cold or flu, then it is important for your body to take time to recover. The best way to recover from any illness or sickness is to rest.


It’s really, really important that you rest. When I wrote this article, I was recovering from a cold, so I had not exercised at all that week. I had gone on walks, but I tried to rest as much as I could. Instead of doing full blown workouts, I did a little bit of walking and stretching…that sort of stuff. But did not actually do a ‘proper’ workout that week, because I have been ill and my body needs time rest and recover.


Exercise is taxing on your immune system. Your immunity is going to drop even more when you exercise and quite often that’s when you actually end up getting even more sick, or it takes you longer to recover. People think that a good workout will help them sweat out their sickness. Unfortunately this is not always the case for most people.


The best thing is, if you’re sick- rest, but then as soon as you’re better get back into it – ease back into it though. Don’t jump straight back into what you were doing beforehand. If you were training five days a week don’t go straight back into five days a week. I’d probably start off with maybe two or three sessions and then gradually build up again because your body obviously needs time to get back into the swing of things. Your body doesn’t just bounce back overnight.


Be mindful, that after having some time off from your fitness, you may need to dig deep for that motivation again. Don’t let a few absent fitness sessions become your all time reason to stop exercising altogether. I’ve seen it a million times before. Understand that you may need to re-motivate yourself again.


This comes back to focusing on the positive effects that a workout has on you, how good it makes you feel and look. It also comes back to focusing on those short and long-term fitness and health goals. Keep them at the forefront of your mind.

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