Is It Okay to Exercise When You're Ill?

Exercise is important for our health, but what about when we are feeling under the weather? 

The general consensus seems to be that your best bet is rest and relaxation. 

However, there are those who believe in the power of exercising while ill: if done correctly, they say that light exercises could even help get rid of symptoms faster than doing nothing at all! Is It Okay to Exercise When You're Ill?

More interestingly, regular workouts have been shown to boost immunity over time so ideally someone would want to continue working out during cold or flu season rather than taking a break until feeling completely healthy again.

It depends on how bad you feel about each individual circumstance but as long as you don't push yourself too hard (or try anything new) then exercising should probably still be okay.

What do you think? Is it okay to exercise when you're ill? 

Before deciding whether or not to exercise, it's vital to be able to recognise the difference between a cold and the flu. 

The common cold is usually characterised by a runny nose, water eyes, a cough, and scratchy throat, without a fever. 

If you are able to workout within your own comfort zone, having a cold shouldn't have any lasting effect - it may even make you feel a little better or, at least rid your system of the cold a bit quicker. 

Should you work out when you have the flu?

As mentioned earlier, recognising the difference in symptoms between a cold and flu should be a good indicator as to whether or not you head to the gym, out for a run or whatever else floats your "workout"-boat.

Firstly, knowing your own body, you will know from experience the symptoms that you need to keep an eye out for when you have the flu, for example. 

This will most often involve a runny nose, water eyes, a cough, and scratchy throat accompanied by a fever, however, some people will also experience headache, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Needless to say that this would be the time to stay away from the gym both for yourself as well as your fellow gym-goers... By putting your body under unnecessary stress when ill can make it harder for it to fight off infection and, ultimately, ends up hampering your recovery. 

Counterproductive as it may sound to some, taking some time away from exercising could be the better choice.

Risks of exercising when ill - what are they?

Of course, not everyone will agree on whether or not exercising when ill is a good idea.

Some of the risks associated with working out while sick include:

- Injury; by pushing yourself too hard you risk straining your muscles which can lead to injury. For example, if you're running and come down wrong on one foot, it could  cause a sprain.

- Dehydration; when you are sick, your body is already working overtime to fight the bug off which can cause it to become dehydrated more quickly.

By exercising while ill and not replenishing lost fluids afterwards puts you at risk of becoming even more dehydrated... Not good for anyone!

- Exposing others; by working out at the gym or even running outside, you are putting others at risk of catching whatever you're carrying. Even if you don't feel that bad yourself, you could still be passing it onto someone else.

- Making it harder to recover; when ill, your body is already fighting a battle which means any other stress on it can make things more difficult for your immune system  to fight it off which then results in you taking longer to recover.

- Tiredness; those with more energy will often want to keep on working out despite being unwell but this can lead to a serious lack of judgement and could result in an accident. Not the best idea!

If you still want to go for it, here are some tips for working out whilst ill

Keep hydrating

We all know how important staying hydrated is on the daily, which also means it is that much more important when you're not feeling the greatest.

Not only is your body most likely expelling additional fluids (ie. runny nose, etc) and these will need to be replaced but flushing your system out to rid it of any toxins and restore your body' equilibrium.

After a workout and particularly one that was done with a cold, you must remember to replenish your electrolyte. It's critical to maintain both hydration and methods to replenish electrolyte salts while working out.

Drinking water, such as coconut water, chicken broth, miso soup, or sports drinks might aid in the restoration of electrolytes and maintain the body functioning normally.

Eating a nutritious diet that includes a wide range of fruits and vegetables is one of the greatest methods to improve your immune system and avoid illness. 

The body also requires these healthful nutrients while recovering from an infection.

Don't overdo it

When someone is unwell, their body is working to both combat and heal from an illness. 

As a result, it's important to keep exercise light. It may not be a good idea to push the body beyond its limits, such as doing sprints or heavy weightlifting. 

A quick stroll or a bike ride may be enough to invigorate the body without overworking it.

Pay attention to what our body is telling you

Your body is constantly talking to you and when you're feeling under the weather, you really need to pay attention.

It's time to call it a day if you're exhausted after just a few minutes of exercise. It might be inconvenient, but it is still better than doing yourself an injury.

Wrapping up

Exercise is important for your physical and mental health, but if you're sick it can be hard to get motivated. 

Whether the illness is a cold or something more serious like the flu, here are some tips that will help you stay healthy while still getting in an effective workout routine.  

Do what's right for YOU!

First of all, no one should ever pressure anyone into exercising when they don't feel well enough. 

If you think exercise might make things worse for you than better, then just take care of yourself by resting up instead.

If working out feels safe and beneficial to your current state of being (maybe breaking a sweat helps bring down fever), there are ways to incorporate fitness without risking any further damage.

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