Is it bad to workout when you are sick?

March 31st 2018

Should you exercise when sick?

Photo Credits to Quora

What would you do?

Dear teenage self,

Should you workout when you are sick? And how do you know if you are making the best decision at the time?

This question always bothered you. Yet, you never figured out an answer for it.

You started a few years ago; you needed a new workout routine since you wanted to get stronger. Simply running and playing basketball would not get you big and strong.

You did some searching around and found starting strength. You will later realize what an incredible start this will have on your future. You read the exercises. You imagined your results. You followed through.

You are hooked. You are loving the routine and loving the progress. Only one concern though, you get sick frequently.

The usual - sore throat, chills and stuffy nose. Maybe minus the chills if you are lucky.

You researched and read as many articles and experiments on whether or not you should go workout or take a rest. Some told you to rest and some told you to go workout, but with a reduced volume and intensity.

You also referred back to the workout manuals(link here) and they never mentioned anything about being sick.

What did you do?

You trained through it. You went through life headstrong, allowing nothing to stop you.

Every single ailment, you conquered. Every single sickness, you fought.

You were in school during the time and was living a stress-free life. No immediate stresses. No bills to pay. I was really lucky.

But life is not always black and white. It is complicated and it will seesaw. Sometimes, things will not go your way. But that does not mean you can not pick yourself back up and start all over again.

You will go through one year where you got sick eight times - something that never happened to you. You will not want to break your consistency and train through all these separate occasions.

And the result? After that one year, you will get sick three more times?

There must be a trend, why does this happen?

Maybe, I should have tried taking a step back in life - take a break!

I know you. Determined to get what you want and will focus your efforts to make sure your goals are achieved. But there will be obstacles. However, all your setbacks are placed there precisely for you to overcome.

Take some rest and analyze your life

  • How did you get sick?
  • How is your nutrition?
  • Am I getting high quality sleep?
  • What can you do better to learn from this situation?

Instead of going on autopilot, start thinking. Start adapting. But most importantly, take some rest to make sure your body is ready for the beating it will receive.

Your life will be filled with challenges and disappointments. Be calm and stay focused. Give your body the respect and rest it needs. It will reward you with so many treasures.

And the next time you ask if you should exercise when you are sick, remember?

Remember the car accident that left you injured for 6 months. Bruised lungs, severe wrist sprain, tons of abrasions.

But you will recover. You will get stronger. Stay collected.

Constantly review your gameplan. And think critically about your situation. Temporary distractions will happen but do not let them deter you from your path.

Reach for the stars and keep dreaming

What does science have to say?

According to an analysis on various experiments, it was concluded that regular and moderate exercise can help prevent illness. However, experimentation was much too random, scattered and small. Simply put, there was not enough evidence to strictly conclude whether or not you should exercise when sick.

According to an analysis on elite endurance athletes? high training volume compared to their amount of sick days, it was found that the longer these athletes trained, the less likely they are to get sick. However, the experiments did not mention whether or not these elite athletes trained during sickness.

It is revealed in their discussion that many elite athletes failed to compete in many competitions due to being sick. Whether this cause was from their high demand for performance or some other factor, it is clear that even the best athletes allow their body to rest when sick. Yet, their busy schedules do not account for any time to be sick.

According to an analysis on moderate training volume on immune system responses, their results show how the immune system is suppressed at first but then overcompensates after an initial drop. The experiment revolved around a control group, 6 week training and 15 week training among sedentary slightly obese women.

It was shown that the immune system was slightly suppressed towards 6 weeks but showed a better response of about 120% after 6 weeks and even towards 15 weeks of training.


Even science can not conclude to exercise when sick. Based off personal experience and scientific research, I am confident that the best thing you can do for your health is to rest when you are sick.

Life is short so why spend it suffering from exercising when sick. Stay at home. Get healthy and train hard later.

Tags Training

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