Can I exercise while sick

Although there is no doubt that exercise plays an essential role in health, many people wonder if exercising while they are sick will help or prevent recovery. Can I exercise when sick?

A quick recovery is always the best when you are sick, but it can be challenging to know when it is OK to get through with your regular exercise routine and when it is best to take a rest.

Exercise is a healthy habit, and it is normal to want to keep exercising, even when you are feeling unwell. It can be excellent in certain situations and harmful if you experience specific symptoms.

Many experts use the “over the neck” rule when advising people to continue exercising while ill.

According to this theory, if you only experience symptoms above the neck, such as a stuffy nose, sneezing, or earache, it is probably OK to exercise with mild intensity for a shorter period, but only if you feel ready for it.

On the other hand, if you experience symptoms below the neck, such as nausea, body aches, fever, diarrhea, productive cough, or chest congestion, you may want to skip exercise until you feel better.

When it is safe to exercise

Exercising with the following symptoms is most likely safe, but always check with your doctor if you are unsure.

Mild cold

If you have a mild cold and energy to exercise, the best solution is to take an easy walk outside or at home instead of exercising vigorously. Maintaining social distance is even more critical with the added opportunity to develop COVID-19.

If you feel you lack the energy to get through your routine, consider reducing the intensity of your workout or shortening its duration.

Although it is generally OK to exercise with a mild cold, remember that you can spread bacteria to others and make them sick.

Proper hygiene is a great way to avoid spreading the common cold to others. Wash your hands often and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.


Earache is a sharp, dull, or burning pain localized in both ears. Although ear pain in children is often caused by infection, earache in adults is more often caused by pain in another area, such as the neck.

The cause of ear pain can be a sinus infection, a sore throat, a tooth infection, or pressure changes.

Certain ear infections can put you off balance and cause fever and other symptoms that make exercise unsafe. Make sure you do not have one of these ear infections before you start exercising.

However, most earaches can only be uncomfortable and cause a feeling of satiety or pressure in the head.

Although exercise is probably safe when you have earaches, try to avoid exercises that put pressure on the sinus region. Stick to easy walking. Something as simple as bending can be very uncomfortable with a sinus infection.

Stuffy nose

Having a stuffy nose can be frustrating and uncomfortable. If you have symptoms such as productive cough or chest congestion, you should consider taking a break from exercise.

However, it is OK to exercise if you only experience a stuffy nose. Getting some exercise can help open your nasal passages and help you breathe better.

Ultimately, the best option is to listen to your body to determine if you feel good enough to exercise with a stuffy nose.

Another option is to change the training to adapt to your energy level. Going for quick walks or bike rides are great ways to stay active even when not feeling up to your usual routine.

Due to the COVID pandemic, you should not go to the gym if you are ill. If your nose is very stuffy, do not try anything more strenuous than very light exercise or walking. Pay attention to your breathing and what you feel you can handle.

Mild sore throat

A cause of sore throat can be a viral infection such as a cold or flu.

In certain situations, such as when a sore throat is associated with fever, productive cough, or difficulty swallowing, you should put exercise on hold until a doctor tells you that it is OK to resume your workouts.

However, it is probably safe to exercise if you experience a mild sore throat caused by a cold or allergies.

If you experience other symptoms that are often associated with a common cold, such as fatigue and overload, you should consider reducing the intensity of your regular exercise routine. Although there is no doubt that exercise plays a vital role in health, many people wonder if exercising while sick will help or prevent recovery.

Reducing exercise duration is another way to change activity when you feel healthy enough to exercise but not have your usual endurance.

Staying hydrated with cold water is a great way to soothe sore throats during exercise so you can add activity to the day.

Related articles:

Is exercise good when sick

Feel sick after exercise


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