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I'm Sick - Should I Exercise?

I'm Sick - Should I Exercise?

By Dr. Doug

This winter there are several different viruses circulating through the population, not just our nemesis COVID-19. As we are trying to return to a more normal life, how does being sick affect things, like exercise?

This is a subject that has been studied a lot, and here are some points to remember:

1) If your symptoms are fairly light, nasal congestion or runny nose and perhaps a low-grade headache, then light exercise is fine. A study from the 1990s showed exercise a group of subjects with light symptoms didn’t make the cold or its symptoms any worse. For that matter, it didn’t make them better either. But continuing to do some exercise is obviously better for your overall health.

2) However, if you have "symptoms below the neck", like a hacking cough, fever, body aches or diarrhea, exercise could cause a worsening of your symptoms and lead to unwanted complications. In a few cases, researchers found heavy exercise with these types of symptoms can lead to lingering symptoms… much like what is being described by sufferers of “long-Covid.”

3) If you do choose to exercise, light to moderate levels of intensity are best. A brisk walk, a light workout on an elliptical or stationary bike are all good activities. Be mindful if you have any increase in symptoms or feel light headed during the workout. While you are sick, you just want to maintain a basic level of fitness without pushing hard. Once you have recovered, slowly increase your intensity until you reach your desired result.

Let’s all plan for a healthy winter!

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