Finally getting into an exercise routine and sticking to it is a dream come true if you’ve had trouble getting into the habit of going to the gym. Should you start developing signs of illness such as a sore throat, though, you must evaluate whether to stop your routine temporarily. Whether to continue going to the gym depends on why you have a sore throat and -- to a lesser extent -- how the sore throat makes you feel overall.
When You Can Still Go
Going to the gym with a sore throat is sometimes acceptable. If you know why your throat is sore and that it’s not due to a contagious illness -- maybe you spent the previous evening cheering at an exciting football game or concert and just overdid it vocally. If that's the case, there is no reason to avoid the gym unless increased air intake from heavier breathing as you work out hurts your throat. Allergies, too, don’t necessarily have to stop you unless the allergy or allergy medication makes you feel awful. If the medication makes you the slightest bit drowsy or dizzy, stay home so you don’t accidentally fall on a machine and hurt yourself, or worse, get into a car accident when trying to get there or back home.
Mild viruses like colds present a mixed bag of problems. The cold could still be contagious, which your gym mates won’t like. Even if there aren’t many people there, you can transmit germs through touching the machines or sneezing and coughing onto them. IDEA Health and Fitness notes if all the symptoms are above the neck and in your nose and throat, you could exercise but you’d have to do so at a more moderate pace to avoid stressing your immune system. Again, watch for how cold medicines affect your ability to stay awake or upright. Forget going to the gym if you are dizzy, drowsy or feeling otherwise unable to handle exercise. That could be a sign your body needs to rest instead.
Fever is an exception to the above-the-neck rule. IDEA Health and Fitness warns you risk heatstroke from exercising with an elevated temperature, and dehydration can set in as well. An inflammation known as myocarditis and heart failure are other possibilities. Fevers indicate infection, either viral or bacterial, and you need to see a doctor to ensure you haven’t developed an illness like strep throat, which requires quick treatment.
Any symptoms occurring below the neck are signs you should not exercise, much less do so in a crowded environment, even if the soreness in your throat is mild. Rest instead and let your lungs, stomach or other affected body area recover. Adding the additional stress of exercise to already congested lungs or a nauseated stomach won’t help matters. Advice about when you can go back to exercising varies slightly but generally includes waiting a few weeks after you feel better and testing yourself with a light-intensity, 10-minute workout, increasing the amount you work out after that over a number of days. Also, stay away from the gym if you’re recovering from a medical procedure; your doctor will tell you when you can resume your gym routine.
Investigate the Unknown First
Don’t go to the gym if you don’t know why your throat is sore. If you have something contagious, you could spread it to other people there, and the exercise could worsen your condition. Think about it from the opposite angle. If someone showed up at the gym with an unknown illness, you wouldn’t that person to pass it to you. If you can’t pinpoint the cause of the soreness, see a doctor or go to an urgent care center first to get a diagnosis, especially if you have a fever or any other odd or serious symptom. Even if it turns out to be an allergy or cold, you’ll at least know how best to treat it. Sore throats sometimes occur as a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux, so if it is becoming a recurring problem, a doctor can investigate further into the cause.