So you finally find your stride with working out. You’re consistent, seeing progress, and finally starting to get excited about working out instead of that feeling of existential dread.
You’re sick. You go to bed excited for your workout the next morning, and wake up feeling like you got hit with a Mack Truck.
And then you wonder…“should I still try to work out?”
If you are sick, in any way, you should definitely not work out around other people. Do not go to the gym, do not have your trainer come over, do not put other people at risk.
But if you are wondering if you should still do something active, we have a rule of thumb called Above The Neck.
If you are sick above the neck with sniffles, sore throat, runny nose, or dry cough, it’s okay to workout LIGHTLY on your own. Maybe take a walk or do some gentle yoga. The reason for this is the faster your blood flows, the more your kidneys and liver work (your natural detoxifiers). We want them to filter out the toxins quickly so you can get better faster.
It’s important to not overdo it though. If you go too hard, then your body has to make a choice about sending its energy to meet the physical demands you are putting on it, or sending its energy to fight the sickness. Almost always, it will choose to meet the physical demands (this is an evolutionary adaptation) and so the sickness is allowed to grow unchecked. You could make yourself much worse if you go too hard. Please do not try to “sweat it out”. People do not sweat out viruses or illnesses; that’s not a thing.
If you are sick below the neck with any kind of gastro-intestinal distress, wet cough, a fever, or anything that affects the lungs (like Covid), it is not a good idea to work out. Your body needs rest, colorful fruits and vegetables if you can keep them down, and plenty of fluids. You might also need medication so please consult with your physician.
Final takeaway: If you are sick above the neck, you can work out lightly. If you are sick below the neck, you should rest and skip the workout. Always listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs, you just have to tune in.