- When you’re ill, it can be hard to tell whether exercise will make you feel better or worse.
- If you’re unsure, you can use the “neck rule” to determine whether working out is a good idea.
When you’re ill, working out might be the last thing on your mind. The thought of training and getting sweaty and exhausted might not be high on your agenda, because you’d rather be snuggled under a blanket.
On the other hand, some people can’t wait to get back to the gym. Some research shows that having a cold doesn’t have much of a negative impact on your exercising abilities, and some people report feeling better once they have worked out.
It’s not always a good idea though, as the Huffington Post points out, so when you’re weighing up the benefits and costs of exercising while unwell, there is something called the “neck rule” which you should follow.
According to the Mayo Clinic, moderate physical activity is fine when you have a cold, as long as you don’t have a fever. The reason it makes some people feel better is because exercise can open up your nasal passages which relieves congestion.
However, it’s important to take note of whether your symptoms are all “above the neck,” such as a runny nose, blocked nose, sneezing, or sore throat. You should not workout if you have any below the neck symptoms, such as a tight chest, a persistent cough, a bad stomach, or muscle aches.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Ben Fletcher, fitness and conditioning expert at Push Doctor, said the loss of concentration you may feel when unwell can be dangerous, especially if you’re using gym equipment. Also, keeping hydrated can be difficult when you’re ill, which can make injury more likely.
Of course these are just guidelines, and if you listen to your body you should be able to tell if you’re well enough to go for a run. But the Mayo Clinic recommends you take it easy and reduce the intensity and length of your workout to make sure you don’t overdo it.