Should I Work Out When I Am Sick?

Winter is coming. And with it comes the threat of sickness such as the dreaded flu. Now, of course, it is important to stay in tune with a healthy diet and employ healthy habits which can help promote a stronger immune system, however, let’s say you do fall into the ugly trap of feeling sick, what happens to your training? Do you change your plan? Change exercises? Or stop training? Read below to find out:


What happens to the body when you get sick?


Mentally you will feel weaker, that’s a given. But let’s take a more in-depth look, biologically the body’s immune system is stimulated to defend the body from whatever is going on internally. Watch this video for a visual representation. Fun fact, one study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology found that after 6 weeks of cold water plunging, 3 times a week, the tested participants displayed a ‘small’ but significant increase in lymphocytes (body’s cells that fight infection) suggesting that cold water therapy can increase immunity (click to watch an individual who believes strongly in the cold therapy approach). But moving on, with regards to work capacity, when we are sick our energy levels are lower as our body is using energy to attempt to fight off infections. Training like this would be counterintuitive seeing as the body is struggling in battling internal challenges, and does not have the capacity for intensive fitness training as well. Be smart, listen to your body, and understand that there is a difference between mental energy and physical energy. When the body is low on mental energy there are ways around it, but when the body is low on physical energy, it is usually a clear indicator the body is temporarily tapping out.

Additionally, It is widely accepted that amino acids play a key role in regulating the body’s immune response, thus by training, we are weakening our body’s rate of recovery. This is because the body will begin to utilize the necessary amino acids in the body for muscular recovery instead of utilizing them to regulate the immune response. For this reason, we suggest taking some time off from intense training in order to promote a faster recovery.


Ok, so what should I do?


Rest. As much as you need, focus your efforts on recovery rather than exhausting yourself with overly intense training. Be wise and listen to your body, it seeks recovery, give it what it needs. If you feel you have the mental energy to train, it can prove very helpful to engage in yoga to help stimulate a relaxed and calm mind. Additionally, you may want to work on mobility (which is often neglected) that way you are still benefiting physically from not training. Moreover, you should be focussing on what you are putting into your body, watch your eating habits, drink plenty of water, and eat plenty of fruit! Finally, we strongly suggest, if you are afraid of losing gains, eat according to your phase of training, for example if you are in a bulk phase then aim to continue eating in a caloric surplus, if you are cutting vice versa. Then as soon as you are well rested and your body’s energy has returned to normal, train away and watch those gains increase! Sometimes, time off from training can clear your palate and give you fresh perspective.


If you found this post insightful, why not check out some of our previous posts on our blog page or if you are interested in becoming a qualified personal trainer check out our main page for course information and if you have any questions feel free to email us at

Written by Daniyal Siddiqui.

By |2018-10-24T10:55:34+00:00October 21st, 2018|Blog|Comments Off on Should I Work Out When I Am Sick?
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