When you are sick, it can often sideline you from working out. For some, this is problematic because you might fall behind on your health goals. Many wonder if it’s healthy to work out with a cold or similar virus. You might not feel like it, but is it safe to push through and exercise with a cold anyway? Here’s some information on the topic backed by Mayo Clinic’s suggestions. 

Assess Your Symptoms

Only you can tell how severe a sickness feels to you. According to Mayo Clinic, if it’s just a cold or similar virus, generally you’re safe to work out. If you’re nasally congested, exercising might even help to relieve it.

 If you’re feeling low energy because of being sick but don’t want to throw off your fitness goals, scaling back on the intensity of the workout is your best bet for a compromise. Say you normally go for a run – switch it out for a walk. Or, if you normally lift weights for 45 minutes, scale it back to 30 minutes or use lighter weights. 

Even if you feel your symptoms are mild enough, low-intensity exercise is the way to go. It puts less stress on the body and the nervous system, and doesn’t interfere with healing as much as, say, a hardcore HIIT workout or sprints. Low-intensity work that keeps your heart rate relatively steady and gets you sweating is the best route for exercise with a cold. 

“Head Cold” vs. “Chest Cold”

If you only have symptoms like a runny nose, congestion, headache, sneezing or minor sore throat, it’s a less severe virus and you’re able to work out if you feel up to it. But if you have symptoms of a chest cold, like a bad cough, upset stomach, severe sore throat or lung pain, it’s best to rest. If you go for the workout, make sure you hydrate extra. Your symptoms can get worse if you exercise while dehydrated.

Listen to Your Body

Above all else, listen to your body. This means being honest with yourself. If your body needs a break, it’s best for your health to go with it. If your symptoms aren’t too bad and you’re set on exercising with a cold, it won’t hurt you and might even help with your congestion. The severity of a cold varies per person, so listening to your body is the best way to make the decision.