Should you train when you're ill ? - Dr Folu Oluwajana


Should you train when you’re ill....well, it depends. I woke up with a terrible sore throat and blocked nose yesterday morning....but I still headed straight to the gym.

The “neck rule” is a good rule of thumb to follow. If all your symptoms are above the neck, its likely you can still workout. For example, a runny or blocked nose, mild cough and sore throat. But if you have symptoms below the neck, such as shortness of breath, a chesty cough, muscle/joint aches, abdominal pain, diarrhoea & vomiting, or a high fever, it might be better to avoid training.

This is only a guide and you should listen to what your body tells you. Whether or not you train is not only influenced by the severity of the illness, but also your training age/experience and the type of training you do. And don’t forget other factors such as sleep, personal and work commitments. 

Ultimately if you really don’t feel up to it...stay in bed!

If you do train whilst ill you might need to alter your workout, make it shorter or less intense. Or maybe even change the location; I felt able to go to the gym yesterday but I decided against playing netball outside in the cold and rain.

One of the benefits of regular exercise is improved immunity but over-training can actually suppress your immune system, increasing your risk of illness. So whether you’re sick or not, make sure you get adequate rest & recovery time.

Be sensible but be honest. Don’t skip two weeks for a slight sniffle but don’t push yourself too hard when you should be resting. And if in doubt, seek advice from a medical professional.

Checkout more from Dr Folu: 

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