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Working Out When Sick

Too Sick to Exercise? "Neck-Up Rule"

It's that time of year when everyone seems to be experiencing a second round of illness. Your second cold could be putting a damper on your training habits. Sweating it out may be OK in certain situations, but exercising while really ill could end up making you feel worse.

According to Women's Running magazine, when in doubt, follow the "neck-up rule." If your symptoms are most felt from the neck up, such as nasal congestion, headaches, sneezing, or a runny nose, and your energy levels are good, then it's perfectly fine to do a moderate workout. On the other hand, if your symptoms are below the neck, and include achiness, chest congestion, or nausea, skip the workout. Definitely forgo the sweat session if you have a fever.

Working out won't sweat out your illness, so you're better off resting and drinking plenty of fluids. Allow your body time to heal itself, and when you're feeling better, remember to ease slowly back into your routine.

Join The Conversation
chillchic chillchic 7 years
I'm with you discocactus.
discocactus discocactus 7 years
If I'm sick I just don't feel like working out. Regardless of the location of what ails me.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 7 years
I've tried working out when my "issue" is above the neck. But being that my migraine disease is always above the neck and is crippling exercising while having an attack makes it worse. Then I face the wrath of doctor's yelling at me for working out when my body was clearly saying "don't". My migraine attacks mean lower blood pressure than I already have and less oxygen to the brain and working out just adds to my confusion and vertigo. I have to tell them that if I left my workout decisions to my body it would always say "don't". Tlsgirl - I would say it depends on why your throat hurts - how serious is the pain? A sore throat could fall into the neck down category if you had untreated strep or tonsillitis because those ailments can damage heart muscle if they worsen and go untreated. If you suspect that there's a serious reason for your throat hurting then I would air on the side of caution. If your throat hurts from yelling or post-nasal drip then I would say neck up. Those are cause and effect sorts of things were you can backtrack to the reason why your throat hurts. That's just IHMO.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
My question is what if you have a sore throat? Is that neck up or neck down?
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