Can You Exercise When You Have a Stye?

Crying woman
A stye may impair your vision, making it difficult to play sports. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Exercise is possible when you have a stye, or sty. First, take some things into consideration, though. Styes are caused by Staphylococcal bacteria, which is highly contagious and can spread to other people. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your vision may be somewhat compromised. However, “Mild to moderate physical activity is usually OK” when you have an illness that does not include a fever or symptoms above the neck says Edward R. Laskowski, M.D. from the Mayo Clinic.

At the Gym

If you must exercise while you have a stye, consider working out at home rather than the gym. Going into public places exposes other people to the bacteria causing your stye. Simply sweating on the fitness equipment can expose others to the bacteria. The watery discharge often accompanying a stye contains contagious bacteria, contaminating anything you touch after direct contact with the affected eye, according to information from All About Vision.

Obstructed Vision

Common symptoms of a stye can impair vision, making it difficult to participate in sports and other physical activities. Swollen eyelids can reduce range of sight, and watery discharge can cause blurry vision. Excessive blinking, which sometimes accompanies a stye, also limits visual capabilities. Additionally, a stye can cause light sensitivity, affecting vision and performance if exercising outdoors.

Contact Lenses

You cannot wear contact lenses if you have a stye, according to information from the Mayo Clinic. So, if you use contact lenses to exercise, you may need to employ sports glasses instead. If you don’t have sports glasses, you’ll have to wait.

Resistance to Infection

Heavy training may compromise your body’s ability to resist and fight infection, according to a review of scientific data from Appalachian State University published in the May 1998 issue of the "Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology." The data shows endurance athletes have an increased risk of respiratory infection during heavy training and for up to two weeks following competitive events. Researchers also found an association between a few hours of heavy exertion and suppressed immune function. Because styes are caused by bacteria, you want your body’s immune system at full power to eliminate the bacteria.

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