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Can you exercise when you’re sick?

November 14, 2019

We have finally reached the time of year where colds and bugs are making their way around schools, households, offices and pretty much anywhere people go. As a result, a trip to the gym may seem a lot less attainable than it would if you were full of health. For some, however, the idea of skipping a workout doesn’t seem like an option. So, should you be exercising when ill?

This question is likely to pop up from time to time, particularly from your clients. The answer isn’t always as simple as yes or no. Sometimes it can be done within reason, other times it is best to stay in bed and rest. Your clients will need to make the call themselves, but it helps to know how to advise them about exercising when ill.

Identify the symptoms

If their symptoms present above the neck, then it is usually okay to work out as normal. These are things such as a runny nose or a sore throat, as it’s usually nothing more than the common cold. These symptoms should still allow your clients to take on some exercise. It might even help!

However, if the symptoms are from the neck down, whether it be an aching body, a fever, a chesty cough or an upset stomach, then rest is advised. Attempting to power through will compromise the body’s immune system, prolonging recovery. A fever raises core body temperature, which can be dangerous. The key is to reserve energy as opposed to burning it.

Listen to your body

As mentioned, you can only offer advice to your clients, but you cannot tell them what to do. At the end of the day, they should listen to their body. If it is only a cold, but they find themselves exhausted, then they may want to stay in bed and skip the gym for a day.

Things to consider if your client does want to exercise

If your client has chosen to continue exercising when ill, there are some things you can do to make the workout easier for them.

Workout intensity

It is unlikely that your client can train as hard as they would if they were in good health. If they tell you they are unwell, adjust your planned workout to a lower intensity while their body recovers. This could be anything, from lowering weights to slowing down the pace during cardio.

Staying hydrated

Though it should be a golden rule no matter the client’s health, this should certainly be factored in when they are unwell. The body requires more water to help ease congestion. Send your client a reminder to bring water with them before you meet just to be safe.

Being mindful of others

As mentioned, this is the time of year when germs spread like wildfire. This is why it is important for you and the client to stay aware of hygiene during the workout. Make sure your client has plenty of tissues and be sure to wipe down each piece of equipment after use.

Offer informed advice with knowledge and expertise from Fit2Train

If you want to offer your clients the best guidance for their journey, it’s important to keep your qualifications up to date. With a range of courses from Fit2Train, you can provide your clients with a valuable service. Email us at to learn more about our courses available from entry-level two up-to advanced level four.

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