Exercising and Illness 101

Don’t work out while you’re sick without knowing the risks.

There are several rumors going around about how working out while you’re sick will help you get better faster. That’s not always the case. While working out is great for your health, it can be dangerous if your body isn’t prepared for it. In fact, working out too hard can actually weaken your immune system and make it even more difficult to recover from illness. Here are some tips for working out if you think you’re sick.

  1. Don’t work out in a public gym if you think you may be contagious. There are several exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home that won’t put others at risk.

  2. When you first notice you’re a little under the weather, keep your workout light. If you’re experiencing symptoms like a sore throat, coughing, or a runny or congested nose, keep your heart rate below 120 beats per minute and limit yourself to a 30-45 minute workout—and stay indoors. If you start to get a headache or are having trouble breathing, stop working out immediately. Do not exercise at all when experiencing symptoms like muscle or joint pain, headaches, fever, diarrhea or vomiting.

  3. If symptoms haven’t gotten worse after a couple days, you can try a more moderate workout—keep your heart rate below 150 beats per minute and limit yourself to 45-60 minutes. You may want to remain indoors until symptoms noticeably reduce.

  4. If symptoms continue after a few days, do not work out again until they start to go away. Regardless of your condition, you should take a rest day after the first couple of workouts to give your body some time to recover. If symptoms worsen, talk to your doctor or seek medical attention immediately.

But the main rule: when in doubt, don’t work out. Don’t risk making your illness worse by committing to your workout routine. It’s okay to take a few days off here and there. Muscle doesn’t disappear overnight. Be safe and know your limits.

Once you’re back to your healthiest self, earn rewards as part of our Wellness Incentive Program. Eligible members can earn up to $170 in rewards. Make sure you take advantage while you still can this year. Rewards reset every year.

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