Should You Train While Being Sick? (THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW!)

Should You Train While Being Sick? (THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW!)

By Edward Casanova | Coding Journal | 25 Sep 2019

by Edward Casanova | Sep 25, 2019 | B2


photo by Brittany Colette on Unsplash 

"As a general rule, it’s always recommended resting and letting your immune system do its job or heading to the doctor if the situation demands it."

So, you haven’t felt well for a while and we’re not talking about laziness or lack of motivation but something that’s not allowing you to perform at your 150%.

What I’ll present to you here is by no means medical advice but general guidelines you can take into account when deciding to train while being sick with an infectious or viral disease.

It may be a mild-headache, stomach ache, flu or just a common cold but in order to proceed with your training, you should have in mind your current condition and how critical it may be. For most cases, we’re talking about a common cold, indigestion or any other small related nuisance.

This doesn’t apply to physical injuries such as muscle strains or related.

Also, consider previous conditions you may have that could be causing all sorts of unwanted symptoms (like chronic rhinitis, allergies, etc). Always consult your doctor.

Without further to do, let’s start.








Probably the first thing that comes to your mind is “What the hell do I have?”, but that can only be answered by a health professional with the required credentials so we’re gonna avoid self-diagnosing unless you wanna play Dr. House on yourself.

The only thing we can do is to make a judgment call based on how critical our condition is and what can we do about it.

A rule of thumb is, if your symptoms are above the neck (sneezing, sore throat, or runny nose) it may be okay to work out.

However, if it’s the opposite you may want to reconsider it and keep reading this.Take into account that it’s not only about you but also the people training around, and depending on how contagious it is you may be facilitating an outbreak.

I’m not saying you’ll start a pandemic - and turn all this thing into Z-War - but it’s always better to prevent.

Be hygienic.



Start with some light cardio and feel how is your body reacting to the load. It’s been scientifically proven that light cardio and moderate exercise can help prevent certain illnesses. However, take this with a pinch of salt and don’t push yourself too hard if you feel dizziness or discomfort while trying to finish your workout.

Exercise has the peculiarity of releasing endorphins and giving the appearance of a pleasant sensation after training.

Nevertheless, this is only temporal thus your immune system still needs the energy to fight whatever it is that you have.

Yeap, your immune system is using as much energy as possible to get back to homeostasis - which is a fancy word to describe a normal state - and if you're going hardcore on those pushups you’re just making things harder for your recovery.

Also, finding yourself sneezing all over the equipment it isn’t considered good gym etiquette either.

Therefore, you can start at your home with some bodyweight exercises and see how it goes from there.



Now, you’ve finally decided to gut through it and although there are plenty of perspectives about exercising around illness I’ll come back to the same point, help your body deal with it and be prudent.

Depending on your medical records (chronic diseases, allergies, etc.) you may decide to try low-intensity activities, take a break or consult with a doctor if it’s something you’re not sure about or if it has been bothering you for a while without showing signs of improvement.

Feeling pumped is cool but letting a bug or virus mess with your immune system just because of your ego it’s stupid.

If you can do cardio or lightweights without feeling discomfort and making the people around feel uneasy with your condition, great; If you can’t, then don’t.

We’ve evolved with an incredibly adaptative mechanism towards stressors but sometimes we need to face the music and do something else about it.



Training its a long shot, so you better keep yourself together throughout the entire journey and avoid working out when your body just can’t cope with so much demand. Remember that more stress means more cortisol (and this guy is responsible for turning off the production of cytokines, the molecules that encourage an aggressive immune response).

Apart from that, it affects your mental performance, therefore your focus. So you’re more likely to suffer from accidents during your workout because of a lack of concentration. Here's an awkward but real example.

Imagine unexpectedly sneezing or pooping in your pants while squatting. Congratulations! you've added a back injury to yourself.

As a general rule, it’s always recommended resting and letting your immune system do its job or heading to the doctor if the situation demands it.

You won’t lose your gains just for taking one week off, not even three!

The more training time you’ve spent prior to the illness (along with other factors) the more muscular retention you may experience.

However, if you’re a newbie or even a veteran stay calm and focus on your nutrition in the meantime, it can help you overcome certain illnesses way faster.



1. Use “the rule of the neck”. Remember you’re not a doctor, just a person making a judgment call.

2. Start light and see how it goes from there, you can do this at home. Don’t push yourself too hard.

3. Spit your ego and take a savvy decision, which most of the times is either resting or going to the doctor.


What are your thoughts about this? Hope you’ve found it helpful.
Ask me anything related to fitness in the comments section.


If you are an ambitious professional or entrepreneur looking to get in shape check my website or shoot me an e-mail.


Have an epic one!
Edward Casanova, Fitness Coach at ZenFit


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