Should I exercise when under the weather?

I had a week at work when a few of my clients have been feeling sick and under the weather.

AllergiesI had some of them still come into the gym not wanting to get out of their routine but very rightly some of them stayed at home under the covers.

There is quite a bit of information out there on when to take a break from exercising if you feel ill but it’s still hard to know if you are just giving up too easily or you are doing the right thing by letting your body recover and restore its immune system to normal levels.

With many bugs going around during spring here is my recommendation on when to stop or start exercise if you catch a cold or are tackling the flu:

One of the clearest signs to stay away from exercise is fever. I would always advise clients not to exercise if they are running a fever as this is a very clear sign of an immune system that is working overtime and the last thing you want to do is to tax it even further by exercising.

Exercise stress – even though is good – is still a stressor, meaning if you are running on a reduced immune system and your body is just providing enough adrenaline for you to get by, exercise will definitely make you even more ill or prolong the duration of the illness.

I usually tell my clients to listen to their bodies and have a feel of what is happening with their bodies.

If you are achy and fatigued with flu or tummy flu like symptoms – stay away from the gym and exercise all together.

Also paying attention to the medication you are taking is important. Sometimes cold medications such as decongestants can increase your heart rate. In addition, your heart rate is increased with exercise. The combination of exercise and decongestants can cause your heart to pump very hard. You may become short of breath and have difficulty breathing.

If you start to feel better, the pain and fever goes but you are still lacking energy, sometimes a walk or gentle gym session as well as a Yoga or Pilates class helps to restart your body’s normal rhythm and strengthen the immune system.

I noticed with myself and with clients too along the years, that sometimes sweating the last of an illness away is very helpful, however if it’s too early for your body to exercise and you start to feel tired during a class or session, I would recommend to stop the workout and give it another go in couple of days.

If you listen to your body, it tells you exactly what you should be doing. If you get especially tired or you aren’t enjoying your workout because you don’t feel great, just don’t do it.

Exercise should be part of a healthy lifestyle, which means you should not feel bad if you miss a week or even two.

It’s all about how things feel when you do it. If it feels right – do it! If not just be patient and wait for your body to recover and get back to exercise when your body is ready.

About Judit Rago

Judit Rago works as a Personal Trainer in the Arches Leisure Centre and teaches Kettlebell classes as well as One-on-One client PT. You can contact her on if you would like to find out more!

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