Exercising when sick…?

May I premise this rambling by saying, it does doesn’t matter if you take your vitamin, eat an apple a day, or get 5-9 servings of fruits/veggies each day…colds can creep up on anyone (ok, it does matter…but sometimes isn’t enough). For 3 days straight I had slight symptoms of a cold… very slight. I decided that I would be a perfect RD and ramp up my antioxidant intake and be faithful with my multi-vitamin. This strategy worked well for the 3 days…until day 4. The cold caught up with me. It said to my stuffy nose as I woke up that 4th morning, “HA! I got you. There is no escape.”


This leads me to my point. When and how much exercise should one do when feeling “under the weather”? I personally experienced asking this question to myself and thought it would be a great thing to discuss during early February when everyone seems to be coming down with one thing or another.



it is OK to run/exercise if your symptoms are above the head…meaning runny nose, headache, sinus pressure, etc.

-if the sickness is affecting your lungs and respiratory system then SIT THIS ONE OUT.

-stop exercising if you feel worse after exercising… and wait until you feel better.

-if your symptoms are GI related, BE CAREFUL about your HYDRATION… diarrhea and vomiting can severely dehydrate you and throw your electrolytes off-balance. Wait until these symptoms have cleared and you are re-hydrated completely!

DON’T exercise/run with a FEVER. The doc says so, and I agree. Plus, you feel crummy when you have a fever. The fact of the matter is that you require more calories with a fever, and if you add exercise to this then you’re just adding “insult to injury” on your already increased fluid and calorie needs.


This past week, I ran on the days I felt that I could. One day, my headache was so bad that it pounded harder when I ran…I had to stop. You can’t feel guilty about that. Your body needs rest to heal. On Sunday, perhaps one of the worse days of this cold, I did my long run. The run outside in 30 degree weather actually helped clear my sinuses! And I felt better after running 10 miles than I had all week! The truth is that illness affects people differently and you need to be honest about how you feel. On one hand, some fanatics need to stop and put up the white flag while others use a few symptoms as an excuse to be lazy. BE HONEST with yourself and your body will thank you.

Stay well.


Read a full article about this at Running Times magazine HERE. (it also addresses running with other illnesses too)

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