That cold going around has finally caught up to you and you're trying to decide if you can manage a workout and "sweat it out" or if it's best to stay home and rest. I hear this question all the time from clients, or see them pushing through an hour of working out that may be better spent resting in bed. Here's a quick guide to help you make the best call.

Strenuous exercise can sometimes can too much stress on the body when the immune system is already weak. Prolonged vigorous exercise is often enough to temporarily weaken the immune system. Things like marathons or training sessions longer than an hour, cause the immune system to weaken naturally as the body recuperates. Moderate and resistance training on the other hand strengthens the immune system over time (when it is healthy to begin with). But what about when the body is already under the stress of a fighting immune system? 

My rule of thumb for my clients is that low intensity exercise (walking, jogging, swimming, yoga, etc.) are okay while you're sick. If you have a fever, it's typically best to take the time that you would otherwise use working out to rest. A fever is the immune system's way of heating your body above its normal temperature to kill off whatever found its way inside that is making you sick. Let your immune system army work against the illness, rather than distract it with your fatigued muscles and high heart rate. 

Let your symptoms guide you. If you feel like your head might explode from congestion, it's probably not going to be in your best interest to increase the need to breathe harder. Likewise, if you're feeling energized, take a walk and get outside. The low intensity exercise will help boost your immune system to get back to normal. 

Other symptoms to watch out for that indicate you need rest, not a workout include:

  • Muscle/joint pain
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Overall fatigue

If you find that you're getting sick more and more often, consider that you may be overtraining. When you feel a cold coming on, refer to our tips to avoid and cure illnesses holistically. Take the time your body is asking for to repair itself and come back strong once you are well.