You've worked hard to make exercise a habit, and now an illness threatens to knock you off track. With your strong desire to challenge yourself, you might be tempted to ignore your symptoms and push through your workouts. While this is okay under some circumstances, there are also times when exercise may only make things worse.
When to Exercise
Most health experts agree that it's okay to stick to your workouts when your discomfort and symptoms are in your head, like a stuffy nose or minor sore throat. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise may briefly ease nasal congestion. If you decide to exercise, consider decreasing the intensity or duration.
Even though you can exercise, it doesn’t always mean you should. The beginning symptoms might be the first signs of a more severe illness. Trust your instincts and take a break if your body needs it. Rest can help you feel better, and one day isn’t going to ruin your progress.
If you decide to go through with your workout, please be respectful of others. Avoid shared equipment and crowded indoor spaces until you feel better.
When to Rest
When your symptoms move below your neck and include chest tightness, coughing, upset stomach, aching muscles, or a fever, take a break until you start feeling better. Exercise increases your internal body temperature, so exercising when you have a fever can make you feel even worse. Pushing through workouts may set you back further than taking a few days off and allowing your body to fight off the bug.
Allow Time to Recover
A severe illness can cause fatigue, muscle weakness, and dehydration. Be patient with yourself. If you were regularly active before the sickness, your body will likely bounce back quickly, but don’t get frustrated if it takes some time. Your body may need a few weeks to recover fully. Ease back into workouts with low-intensity exercises and shorter sessions until you feel confident your body is ready to push harder.