Should You Still Workout When You Are Sick?

We’ve all been there – you were planning to take your weekly HIIT class, or go for a run, or maybe lift at the gym – but now you’re feeling under the weather.  Should you still go?  Is it better to stick to your workout routine (and healthy habit!) or should you lay low and take a rest day?

The answer is simple, although maybe not straightforward:  it depends.

When deciding if you should still exercise while sick, consider the below:

Above or Below the Neck:

  • If your symptoms are mild and “above the neck,” you should be fine to exercise if you’d like.  Think:  runny nose, sneezing, minor sore throat, headache.
  • If your symptoms are “below the neck,” such as chest congestion, nausea, or upset stomach, it is recommended to avoid exercise.

Type of Illness:

  • If you have a fever, skip the workout.
  • If you are (or think you may be contagious) but still feel up for a workout, opt for a solo activity like an outdoor walk or stream a yoga class at home. 
  • If you are not contagious and decide to exercise in a more social setting (such as a gym or group exercise class), it is especially important to practice good gym etiquette and proper hygiene – wash your hands frequently and wipe down equipment after using it.

Type of Exercise:

  • If you decide to exercise after considering the above, you should also put some thought into the type of exercise to do.
  • It may be beneficial to choose a less intense type of workout than what you were initially planning.  You may also want to shorten the duration of the workout and/or make adjustments to make it low impact (think:  no jumping around).

Listen to your body:

  • At the end of the day, listen to your body.  If you’re sick and you are STILL debating working out, you clearly already developed a healthy routine!  A few rest days while you recover will not have long-lasting consequences.  So even if you only have a runny nose, but you’re feeling miserable or lethargic – your best bet may be to skip the workout and head to the couch.  You also do not want to prolong your illness or hurt yourself by pushing yourself when you’re feeling under the weather.  Sometimes you just need to rest. 
  • Whether you skip the workout altogether or decide to still get in some movement, avoid jumping back into your workouts at full throttle when you start to feel better.  Instead, safely ease back into your routine.

If you’ve determined you only have mild “above the neck” symptoms and feel up for a workout, great!  Here are some of our lower-intensity suggestions to get you moving:

  • Stream a Les Mills class at home!  The Stretch, Wellness, Trainer Series, BodyBalance, and Low Impact categories are great options for when you want to move around but don’t want anything necessarily high intensity/impact.
  • Go for a walk, jog, or bike ride.  Weather/setting permitting, we recommend going outside for some fresh air!  If outdoors isn’t an option, doing some light cardio on a treadmill, elliptical, or your favorite machine is another option.
  • Go to the gym for a low impact lift.  Be sure to stay hydrated, take your rests (now isn’t the time for super sets or drop sets!), and practice good gym etiquette (wash your hands ands wipe down your equipment).  You may want to decrease the weight you use, reduce the intensity, or shorten your workout, too.

Have any other ideas? Leave a reply and let us know!



We want you to be well and to live your best life. The content in this blog is provided for the purposes to educate and entertain you: our very important reader. It is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice from a trained healthcare professional.

If you have a medical condition or are under the care of a medical provider, please always seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before undertaking a new health care regimen. To that point, never disregard medical advice or delay treatment for a medical condition because of something you read on this site.

Listen to your care providers as they know you and your condition best. Thank you for reading!

The Team at BSDI

9 Replies to “Should You Still Workout When You Are Sick?”

  1. Great advice and remember others may have poor immunity so we can do our part to keep others safe. Stay home and find a workout that works best in our home environment.

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