Should you exercise while sick?

Sometimes, it's just better to stay home. Photo via Flickr/foshydog
Sometimes, it’s just better to stay home.
Credit: foshydog/flickr

The question: Is it OK to exercise when I’m sick?

The human body is a miracle of integrated structure and function in so many ways. One of the more practical means of connecting function and feasibility is the idea that if something hurts, don’t do it. For example, if you sprain your ankle playing a sport, the swelling and pain that accompany the injury are your body’s way of telling you to rest and allow yourself to heal.

Managing the activities of daily life during an illness is not all that different. Because your body is generally working harder to fight off the infection, any additional stress on your system from exercise may, rather than boost your immune system, impair healing or prolong recovery time from the illness.

Here are some practical examples of how this works:

Strep Throat

This bacterial infection of the soft tissues at the back of your throat generally causes pain, fever, swollen glands and a general feeling of malaise. You may not have much of an appetite and may only be able to drink liquids due to the pain. Any sort of rigorous exercise — including running, weight lifting, spinning or team sports — may increase your overall fatigue, raise the temperature of an already feverish body and cause dehydration, since your ability to take fluids is compromised.

Sinusitis

This infection of your paranasal sinuses is often accompanied by headache, cough from post-nasal drip and difficulty breathing through your nose from congestion. The elevation in heart rate and blood pressure that normally occurs with any type of cardio exercise may make the throbbing in your head from a sinus infection worse, and because you can’t efficiently breathe through your nose may make it more challenging to keep from getting winded.

Bronchitis

Whether from a bacterial infection or, more commonly, a virus, the inflammation of your airways that results in a hacking dry cough may only be made worse by the work of breathing during exercise. You may end up with wheezing and chest congestion due to cold outdoor air being raked over your already inflamed bronchial tubes, and a cough that is worse than ever.

Colds

Do you really want to be “that person” at the gym who is coughing, sneezing and wiping mucus all over the equipment, potentially infecting everyone else?

On the whole, if your illness impairs your daily activities (work, sleep, eating) you probably shouldn’t exercise. Don’t be afraid to take a few sick days off from your workout. The benefit of resting to your general health is likely more useful than any short- or long-term gains to be had from exercising while ill.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Best nature spots for kids in New York…

When it comes to kids and nature, most U.S. parents agree: children should be spending more time outdoors. According to a recent survey by The…

Local

Easter 2014: The year's best bonnets

It's Easter, and that means it's time for Fifth Avenue to turn into a veritable catwalk of bonnet-wearers. The annual march, which kicks off at…

Local

Woman arrested for attempted kidnapping of baby in…

Authorities said that a Queens woman behind an attempted kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby boy was arrested on Saturday.

Local

Hate crime charge in attack on Sikh Columbia…

A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly pulled the beard of a Sikh Columbia University professor as part…

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.