5 Reasons Why You Should Never Workout Sick

working out sick

Going to the Gym Sick is a Bad Idea

Are you feeling sick right now and thinking of working out?  Got some aches and pains? Are you debating if it is a good idea to go to the gym with a cold? Do you think you might have the flu and are wondering if it is OK to still exercise? The simple answer to all of these questions is NO.

In fact – let me restate and say … HELL NO! 

This article will explore the topic of working out while sick and quickly run through five reasons why you should never do it.

The genesis for this post came to me after having a number of people at my gym disclosed they were dealing with a cold but decided to “keep working out”. These proclamations were made despite the fact that several of these folks were running a fever. 

Are you ready for the 5 reasons you should never workout sick? OK, let’s jump right in.

guy with cold gym


Working Out Sick – Five Reasons Not To

1. You are spreading your virus to everyone else

This single point is probably the biggest reason you should not go to the gym when you are sick.

Are you ready?

Your fellow gym members don’t want to come down with your bug.

It’s not OK to come in and “just do cardio” when you are dealing with a cold or flu either. Got a runny nose? Have an elevated temperature? How about a nasty cough?

If so, please, just stay home and let yourself recover. Don’t infect everyone else.

2. You can get a secondary infection

Your body is already trying to fight back against a nasty cold or flu bug. This means your immunity is already going to be down.

Why on earth would you subject yourself to a petri dish of other viruses and bacteria in your sickly state? If you think you are sick now just wait until you pick up what is waiting for you at the gym.

3. You can injure yourself

Another major reason you should not workout when you are sick is simply this – you are more likely to injure yourself. Think about it for a moment. Your body is already fighting off some type of a bug.

This means your thinking is already going to be cloudy. Throw in some cold/flu medications and you become even unfocused. Do you really want to be pushing around 50 LB plus dumbbells right now?

Is it really a smart idea to jump on a flat-bench while you are having problems concentrating?

4. You are prolonging your illness

Remember, you are sick. This means your body is trying to muster up as much energy as it can to put down that cold or flu bug. The more energy you expend through intense exercise, the less energy your immune system has to kill off that virus.

The end result means a cold or flu that should have only lasted a week will now become extended longer – perhaps much longer. Do you see why working out right now is a bad idea?

5. You are not really working out

Let’s be honest. If you are asking yourself if it is a good idea to hit the gym while sick, you probably are playing a mental game and having a conversation that goes something like this: “If I go to the gym, I will just use light weights” or “If I work out today, I will just use the machines and do light cardio”.

Guess what – if you are saying these things to yourself, it means you are not really going to be working out anyway.

And so I ask you – why are you going in the first place? What’s your motivation? If you are wrestling with the answer to this question, see points 1-4. Now ask yourself, is going to the gym right now really worth it?


working out sick exercise

Working Out Sick Summary

Many people have different thoughts about workout out sick. Some websites suggest it is OK to head into the gym if your cold is “above the neck”. Folks – that is a bunch of non-sense.

While your symptoms may be showing in the form of a runny nose or teary eyes, that doesn’t mean the rest of your body isn’t trying to fight off an illness. And you have no idea what symptoms are going to follow until your cold or flu has run its course.

Honestly, when you are sick, the best possible thing you can do for yourself is avoid working out altogether.

Stay at home if possible and heal up. Consider some natural remedies to help with the recovery process. I have included a book recommendation below by the Physicians Desk Reference that explores natural ways to recover from illness. 

I know many people who exercise on a regular basis feel guilty for missing a workout, fearful they will lose long fought for gains. I am here to tell you that taking a few days off (even week off) if you are sick is perfectly OK.

You won’t lose major muscle over that short period of time. In fact, you might even grow a bit because you have given your body an extended period to recover.

I hope you found this post helpful. Thanks for visiting Guy Counseling. Please like us on Facebook! Circle us On Google+ and Pin us on Pinterest!

About John D. Moore 391 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Check out his show --> The Men's Self Help Podcast