Should You Workout If You Are Sick?

I was wondering if workouts (cardio, weightlifting or both) should be halted during a common cold or if you should “sweat it out” as some say. Common sense tells me that the body should fully recover before engaging in an intense workout, but is a light day or a less intense cardio day okay?

Should You Workout If You Are Sick?
By []Marc David

Who doesn’t catch a little cold right in the middle of the week when your workouts were going so great? There’s been many times that my workouts were 100% the best I’ve ever had and right when I was on top of my game – I caught some cold bug and it frustrated me to no end!

How many times have you asked yourself this question or been asked yourself?

“I was wondering if workouts (cardio, weightlifting or both) should be halted during a common cold or if you should “sweat it out” as some say.

Common sense tells me that the body should fully recover before engaging in an intense workout, but is a light day or a less intense cardio day okay?

On one hand you don’t want to break progress by waiting too long between workouts, yet on the other hand, you don’t want to remain sick because the body will have to allocate nutrition in building muscle tissue as opposed to building an immune response.”

– Sick and Wanting to Workout

This was a timely question. I’ve been in many public places this week and almost everybody I’ve been around at some point is sneezing and coughing and looks like they have a horrible cold!

You can workout when you have a cold BUT only under certain conditions. Let me elaborate before I ramble on.

Do Not Workout If:

* You have a fever * You feel nauseous * You are highly contagious and in a public gym

Workout If:

* You just have a mild cold * It’s been a couple of days and you are over the worst of it

Many people that I know of, including myself at one time, did some pretty intense workouts while sick. And not just everyday common cold sick but flu-like sick.

Not only was it irresponsible of me to bring my funk into the gym but Karma was paid back when my body couldn’t recover and I ended up prolonging my illness an extra week or so.

You see, working out when you have a mild cold is not a big deal. In fact, if you engage in light cardio, you’ll feel better. It will help to open up your nasal passages and let you breathe easier. Recovery will not be hampered because it’s a mild cold and you are doing a light workout. Just to keep moving really. Nothing intense at all.

What I don’t recommend is that you workout with weights unless it’s following the same principles.

Light. Keep that in mind. You are not there to get stronger, more fit or build muscle. You are there to feel better, to keep moving and get the added benefits that working out will help you do.

Believe me…

When I’ve done a light cardio workout a couple of days after the worst of the cold is over, I feel a lot better.

Why cardio?

Seems to me that working out with weights does not give you that cardiovascular benefit (except circuit training). I’ve never felt that great when I have a cold and hit the iron. I’ve always felt better when I just do light cardio for about 20 minutes or so. Nothing intense mind you. Strictly warm-up to pace levels.


The research has shown that doing cardio when you have a cold has the greatest benefits. Working out with weights has not had the same effect.

Let’s face it…

Being sick is no fun! But if you over do it, you will just prolong your illness. So keep that in mind when I say light. You are there to feel better not improve or break a personal record.

Next time you are sick, go do some light cardio. Heck, even just walking around the block will feel pretty good.

Your recovery will not be compromised as long as you go light.

I urge you to take care of yourself first but after that, see if some light cardio helps you feel even better and recover faster.

This question is a great bridge to another topic that is a favorite of mine called Taking a Training Break. Should you or shouldn’t you take one?

Fact is, the training break is an overlooked, often under utilized concept that not only will have you in the gym for longer periods of time but you’ll recover faster and get stronger by NOT hitting the weights and doing cardio.

You see, after doing your workouts over and over, your body is always in a constant state of breakdown. At some point, even your immune system is compromised and you get sick. I’ve actually pinpointed my own rhythms.

After 9 weeks of training if I do not take a training break, I always get sick. A mild cold mind you but like clockwork, it happens. I’ve found that by working out continually, that 9 week hump is when my body is taxed to the point where I’m not at my optimal recovery.

By simply taking a break for 7 days, no weight and no cardio, I come back to the gym stronger and more recovered then before.

It’s also very important to just let your joints heal during this time from lifting. So not only is a break good for the immune system but it’s good for joint recovery as well.

If you take a training break every 8-12 weeks, you’ll come back stronger and feeling more to working out then before and contrary to popular belief, you will not lose muscle during a 7 day break. You won’t get smaller and all the gains you made will not be lost. That is a big myth.

During this break I still supplement the same, I just don’t ‘train’ but I am active.

To sum up, taking a training break is a good thing. Every 8-12 weeks just let your body and mind recovery and get ready for the next round of training. It also helps to avoid the working out when sick as described above. By using this process, I’ve been able to avoid being sick for some time and when I am sick, I’m able to recovery a bit faster by using the principles described above.

Copyright 2005 Marc David

Marc David is a bodybuilder and author of the, Beginner’s Guide to Fitness and Bodybuilding. You can get info on Marc’s e-book at: [] To get Marc’s free e-zine, visit

Article Source: [] Should You Workout If You Are Sick?

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3 Responses to Should You Workout If You Are Sick?

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