I’m ill – should I train anyway?

When winter arrives it seems to bring with it a plethora of new sickness bugs and illnesses with it. We all get sick at some stage, but it can be hard to know what to do.

Should you push through your workout, or just rest?

Let’s clear up the confusion!

Working Out Vs. Gentle Movement

Your typical “workout” is likely to be a case of sweating hard, working hard, and essentially putting stress onto the body. When we are feeling well and healthy, adapting to that stress is easy peasy and our bodies respond by becoming stronger. 

When we are sick, however, the stress of a workout can be too much on a body that is already trying to cope with the stress placed on the immune system.

This is not to say you should therefore be inactive.

Engaging in non-strenuous activity – like walking, cleaning, gardening, gentle yoga – have actually been shown to boost immunity, and will likely help you feel better!

The effect of exercise on the immune system

 Over time, engaging in consistent exercise will strengthen the immune system. This is when you are working out when you are well and healthy!

There are instances, however, when a workout will deplete your bodies ability to keep bugs and viruses at bay. The stress placed on your body from, say, running a marathon, depletes the efficiency of your immune system.

The same can be said for high-intensity exercise. If you are already unwell, engaging in strenuous high-exertion training is likely to weaken your immune system further and keep you unwell for longer.

Using your intuition, you can determine what is high-exertion for YOU (it’ll vary) and can adjust your workout accordingly to reduce the impact.

So what is the answer?

Movement is ok, vigorous prolonged exercise is not. You might get through the workout, but simultaneously overload your body’s stress system in the process… meaning being sick for longer.


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