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
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.