Should you workout while feeling ill?

To workout or not to workout while feeling sick? Sweat it our or take some rest?, those are questions a lot of people struggle with including myself. This is also the time of year for a lot of people to feel under the weather. The CrossFit gym that I am working at right now 80% of the people is going through some type of a cold. The question here is, could this be avoided? Is it helpful for you to go to the gym while feeling sick or is it just harmful to other people? The answer could be a simple yes or no depending on how ill you’re/feeling but it might help you out to ask your self a couple questions. Just a couple questions to figure out if you’re actually to ill or it might just be your head telling you that you are to ill, meaning that you don’t want to workout.

It’s easy to use it as an excuse to take a couple days off, but is that actually benefiting you or is it slowing your progress? It could also be the other way around of course, are you pushing it to hard while feeling ill and is it going to make it worse by not taking a couple days of rest?

It’s so simple to go with the easy way out and tell yourself that you’re not able to workout because you have a stuffed nose. The people around you probably won’t fault you for taking some time off while having a cold, but what about you? What if getting a little bit of a sweat in is beneficial to your recovery, would that push you to workout? If you truly believe it’s the right thing to do take some days off, you’re the only person that truly knows how your body is feeling. Make sure you don’t feel worse by the end of it.

What should you do?

The question I’d like you to start of with for yourself is, am I in the right state to go workout with other people around me? Are you contagious enough that other people will pick up on your cold by just being around you? If the answer is yes to both of these questions than maybe hold off on going to the gym. If the answer is yes but you feel well enough to get some sweating in then maybe do a body weight workout/circuit at home that will get your heart rate up and get you to sweat. You’re not going to lose all of your progress with a couple days off from training if you fuel your body correctly. If you do feel like you have to train because you’re afraid of losing your progress, I completely understand. I never want to miss out on any days that I have scheduled to train, but the reality here is that we’re not going to lose all of that progress within a couple days if we worked hard enough before taking that time off.

My personal thoughts and opinion I like to workout when I feel a little bit ill because it gives me the opportunity to sweat out whatever is going on inside my body. Whether that’s actually real or it’s just a placebo, it works for me. It gives me the feeling that I recover better from that small cold everybody deals with and that means I can get back to training at my normal potential faster. Fortunately for me I don’t get sick past the getting a cold fase, so I don’t deal with feeling terrible days on end. If I feel like the training is not going to benefit me, is only going to make me feel worse and put other people in harms way, I won’t show up. Take those days as a reset button, adjust your eating pattern slightly but not too much. Your body might not be recovering from a workout but it is trying to recover from a virus in your body. It takes a lot of energy to fight a virus off and recover, so fuel your body accordingly.

What I’d recommend

If I feel a cold coming up in my body, my focus shifts on dealing with that problem immediately. I start drinking more water, I put workouts in my program that allow me to sweat a little bit more and I try to avoid running out side. When the cold is hitting me, I like to do a lot of mono structural conditioning workouts (think: rowing, biking, skiing, burpees etc.). These workouts allow me to sweat, they don’t tax my system much and there’s no significant muscle soreness that follows the days after. Dealing with soreness on top of trying to fight a virus is not ideal so focus on one instead of forcing your body to do both. If you don’t like to workout simply go for a walk and get some fresh air, don’t allow yourself to sit down or lay in your bed all day. It might make you feel good at the time but ask yourself if that is benefiting you in the long run.

Make smart decisions when it comes to your health and recovery but also the other people around you. If you’re not sure of what to do ask me or someone else for advice.

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