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How Soon Can I Work Out After Getting Sick?

author image Kerry O'Neill
Residing in New Jersey, Kerry O'Neill has been a teacher of English for over 17 years and a writer since 2000. She began by writing curriculum about American and British literature and is now a contributing content writer for various online publications. She graduated summa cum laude from the College of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Arts in English.
How Soon Can I Work Out After Getting Sick?
You need to avoid working out too soon after sickness. Photo Credit John Howard/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Working out is a healthy activity, but it can be a dangerous one if you are recovering from a sickness. You might be itching to get back to the gym after missing time, but you need to listen to your body. If you return to working out too soon, or do not stop when you are sick, you can relapse or intensify the symptoms.

Respiratory Sickness

When your lungs are involved, you need to avoid working out. Exercise puts a strain on your body and weakens your immune system. A respiratory infection can lead to bronchitis and even to pneumonia if the body is not allowed to rest. Pushing yourself in these situations will do more harm than good. In an article in "The Washington Post," immunologists suggest waiting two weeks after such an illness to resume exercise.


When you have a fever, you should not work out because your body temperature is already too high. Working out naturally raises your body temperature and elevates your heart rate. You do not want to intensify the effects of a fever with physical exertion. You could end up loosing too much water and fainting. Dr. Edward Laskowski on MayoClinic.com advises against working out if you have a fever.

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The Common Cold

In a 1997 study conducted at Ball University cited in "The Washington Post," 50 student volunteers were infected with the common cold. Half were asked to exercise while the others rested. The duration of the cold was not increased in those who worked out versus the students who rested. Dr. Laskowski on MayoClinic.com suggests, "Exercise is usually OK if your signs and symptoms are all 'above the neck' --- symptoms you may have with a common cold, such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing or minor sore throat."

Take It Slow

The most important rule in resuming exercise after being sick, according to MayoClinic.com, is to take it slowly. Do not just jump back into your normal workout. You need to lower the intensity and even the duration of the exercise until you feel comfortable. By starting back too soon, you run the risk of weakening your immune system or hurting yourself during the workout. If you are uncertain about when to return, consult your doctor.

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