Can you exercise when you are sick?
Yes...and no. The rule of thumb is if the symptoms are from the neck up you are good to go. However, if the symptoms are below the neck you should probably rest.
That is to say, if you are suffering from a head cold you can continue as normal. If you have a fever or stomach problems you should skip the gym.
Above the neck good to go.
Below the neck stay at home.
The rational behind the above/below the neck rule is due to how our bodies react to different illnesses. Most symptoms above the head do not have the same systemic reaction as symptoms below the neck. When you have a fever, stomach, or aches your body is already under duress. It's already working hard to try and kick the virus.
Going to the gym when you are sick is like trying to fight a war on two fronts. It didn't end well for the Germans and it wont end well for you. The reasoning behind this is two fold. First of all when you exercise you increase your core temperature you also draw nutrients,water, and energy away from our immune system (which is working to kick the virus). Second if you are running a fever chances are that you are contagious. Don't be that guy or gal that gets the entire gym sick.
Can you sweat out a fever?
A fever is not trapped in your sweat glands, and sweating will only work to dehydrate you and increase your fever. Listen to your body, if you feel crummy drink plenty of fluids and get some rest so you can crush your workout next time. Quality over quantity.
Can you workout with a head cold?
A study published in 1998 in the Journal of Medicine & Science showed that the body's response to exercise is not decreased due to a common head cold. The study infected a group of 32 participants with the rhinovirus which is responsible for a third of all colds. Later they had the participants perform 30 minutes of moderate to intense running on the treadmill. The study found that there was no difference in recovery time between the exercise group and the non-exercising group.
Further studies have shown that exercise has no effect on recovery and in some cases reduces inflammation and increases immune response.
Tips for Working Out With A Head Cold.
Good luck and happy lifting!
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http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/37/4/304.short - Effects of Exercise on Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2803113/ Exercise and Viral Infections
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/25/health/nutrition/25best.html Exercise Study