You’re sneezing and sniffling, but you’d hate to skip Spinning—after all, you’ve been so good about hitting the gym lately. Why should you let a little cold derail your dedication?
When it comes to working out while sick, most experts agree it’s OK as long as you use common sense. In fact, a regular fitness routine can even keep germs away in the first place: Research shows that moderate, frequent exercise raises levels of T cells—your immune system’s first line of defense—and people who exercise have fewer colds than couch potatoes. But overdoing it while you’re not feeling well can backfire, taxing your body and prolonging illness.
On the fence about whether your under-the-weather workout is a good idea? Read on to see if you should break a sweat or take a rest.
Use the “neck check”
If your symptoms are above your neck—think congestion, coughing, and sniffles, exercising is OK, Lewis G. Maharam, author of Running Doc’s Guide to Healthy Running told Reuters. If you’ve got fever, body aches, or a deep chesty cough, stay home. Go with your gut, though: if your above-the-neck symptoms are so bad they’re making you uncomfortable, hold off on exercise until symptoms improve, Jeffrey Woods, PhD, professor of kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told CNN.