It’s Flu Season… Should You Skip the Gym When You’re Sick?

Woman with a headache sitting at the gym

A lot of our patients are dedicated to leading a healthy life, prioritizing consistent trips to the gym as part of their daily routines. One of the hallmarks of athletes—and those of you devoted to an exercise routine—is the ability to keep pushing, forcing yourself into physical activity even when you’re not “feeling it.” While it’s occasionally admirable to exercise through fatigue, pain, or mild illness, it’s also important to recognize when your body needs rest.

Muscle soreness could mean whatever illness you’re battling has invaded the muscles. This is a sure sign you need rest.

This is an especially salient point at the onset of cold and flu season. A recent article from Outside raises the question: can you work out when sick? We think their takeaways are highly valuable!

Can exercise prevent illness?

If you feel an illness coming on, a little exercise may be just what you need: it can help unclog your sinuses, increase blood circulation, and give you a boost of energy to fight through the sniffles. Then again, that trip to the gym could also sap your body of the energy and strength it needs to fight off your symptoms, ultimately sidelining you for days or more.

So, can you work out when sick? It all depends. Here are some guidelines to follow.

  • Be sure you check for fever. If you are running a fever, most doctors would tell you to stay home and give your body some rest. Plus, you don’t want to pass on an illness to others. If you’re running 101 or higher or have had a low-grade fever for multiple days, head to a doctor’s office.
  • If your symptoms are above the neck, it’s probably okay to hit the gym. A brisk workout can actually help you clear up sinus issues. Just be thoughtful of others and avoid spreading your germs. The CDC has a great list of hygiene tips.
  • If your symptoms are below the neck, it’s likely better to rest up until your body has had time to recover.
  • Take stock of any muscle soreness you may be experiencing. If you’re feeling stiff or sore, that could mean whatever illness you’re battling has invaded the muscles, and you’ll be better off if you don’t push them into workout mode.

Listen to your body

So, can exercise help prevent illness? Absolutely! As cold and flu season approaches, we encourage our clients to stay committed to their regular exercise routines. At the same time, listen when your body is telling you to step back and take it easy.

All of us at Hess Plastic Surgery wish you a healthy and enjoyable fall!

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