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When NOT to Exercise

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Updated May 16, 2014

While an injury may not preclude you from exercise completely, there are times when exercise is the last thing you should be doing. Never exercise when:
  • You have a fever. Working out can cause your body temperature to rise even higher which could lead to heatstroke. A fever indicates your body is fighting an infection, so put all your energy towards resting and getting well.
  • You have a persistent cough. This could diminish your lung capacity and make breathing difficult, and could also indicate a respiratory infection.
  • You experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea which can result in dehydration. You should avoid exercise until you've completely rehydrated your body and the symptoms disappear.
  • You have a chronic or serious illness. Be sure to get your doctor's okay before you start any type of exercise program.

When to Exercise

If you're feeling puny, but don't have any symptoms as mentioned above, should you exercise? That's up to you. Here are a few cases where exercise may help rather than hurt:

  • Colds. If you don't have a fever, exercise is fine for simple colds. Research shows that people can typically exercise with the same effort when they have a cold as when they are healthy.
  • DOMS. Delayed onset of muscle soreness typically occurs after a new or very intense workout. While this type of soreness is considered an injury, it doesn't necessarily mean you can't exercise. In fact, exercise can actually make you feel better.
  • Stress. If your life is crazy and you can't find time to do everything you need to do, exercise may be last on your list of priorities. But, experts agree that exercise is one of the best remedies for stress. When you exercise, you produce, which induce feelings of well-being and relaxation. So, get moving!

If this all seems confusing, just use your head and follow this simple rule: If you have symptoms from the neck up (like sneezing, stuffy nose, etc.), you can probably do a light workout. If you're symptoms are below the neck (coughing, fever, muscle aches, or nausea), skip your workout and rest.

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