Should You Work Out When You are Sick?

Girls resting during a workout

There’s no right or wrong answer. But if you decide to work out, there are several things to keep in mind.

When to Rest or Exercise When Sick

Determining whether it's okay to exercise ultimately depends on how you feel. If you're not sure if you should lace up your sneakers, check with a doctor. A simple way to decide is to map out your symptoms: Are they from the neck up or the neck down?


It's usually okay to exercise when symptoms above the neck include:

Runny Nose

Runny nose

Slight Cough

Slight cough

Sinus and Nasal Congestion

Sinus and Nasal congestion



Minor Sore Throat

Minor sore throat pain


It's usually best to skip a workout when symptoms include:

Chest Congestion

Chest congestion

Hacking Cough

Hacking cough

Upset Stomach

Upset stomach

Do not

Definitely do not work out when your symptoms include:


A fever

Widespread Muscle Aches

Widespread muscle aches

Swollen Lymph Glands

Swollen lymph glands



If you've experienced these symptoms, it's best to wait until you're feeling better to resume training.

Listen to Your Body

If you feel run down and need the rest, take it. A few skipped days won't drastically decrease performance. However, if you do go workout, keep these things in mind:

  • A workout while sick should generally be lower intensity and shorter in duration than normal
  • If you choose to exercise, now is not the time to run a new personal record or lift heavier
  • Once you start to feel better, gradually bump up exercise intensity

If you have any remaining questions, please contact your healthcare provider.