Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?

Imagine that you have been exercising regularly for the last four months, feeling better and seeing results. Then, you wake up one morning feeling awful. You want to push through and get yourself to the gym, but what is best for your health? Is it good to keep working out when you are under the weather? That depends.

When I was a personal trainer, I would tell my clients if you are sick from the head up, then it is OK to do some exercise but if you are ill from the head down, do not. In other words, if you have a head cold, allergies or some sniffles, then proceeding with an average workout (nothing new or strenuous) is OK. If you have shown signs of a fever, then better to let your body rest and address whatever is causing the temperature spike. Apparently, this is still good advice according to WebMD ( and the Mayo Clinic suggests that you assess whether your symptoms are from the neck up ( or down.

It all has to do with effects on the immune system. Consistent exercise (30-minutes of cardio) most days of the week can pump up your immune system. But heavy, strenuous exercise like performing a marathon may briefly tax your immune system. It seems that you do not want the risks to outweigh the benefits. Working out while sick might mean future workouts are in jeopardy.

Another idea is to try the “five-minute-rule” which means go ahead and get to the gym or jump on your exercise bike, but if after about 5 minutes, you do not feel like you want to or can continue to have a good workout, then don’t. Every fitness routine needs to build in rest periods whether it happens to be because you are sick or part of your normal cycle of activity, knowing when to rest is critical. Then, you can come back strong.

When you do, check out these fitness locations in the Rogue Valley:

Club Northwest

  • 2160 NW Vine St.
  • Grants Pass
  • Group fitness, aquatics, personal training, spa, and even a book nook
  • 541-955-CLUB

Orangetheory Fitness Medford

  • 171 Rossanley Drive
  • Suite 109
  • 458-202-1229
  • Medford

Workouts designed with a combo of cardio and power moves to train you at the cellular level

Anytime Fitness

  • 3564 Lone Pine Rd.
  • Medford
  • 541-973-2700
  • 24-hour access, functional training, and strength and cardio equipment

Snap Fitness Ashland South

  • 2205 Ashland St.
  • Ashland
  • 541-201-2450
  • Strength and Cardio equipment, HDTV classes, and nutrition counseling

Rogue Valley CrossFit

Classes are held at different locations

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