Bummer! You’ve been working out, feeling healthy and energetic then – wham! A cold strikes. Should you still work up a sweat? The short answer is it depends.

Let your body be your guide

Sick Woman with Thermometer. Flu. Sneezing into TissueIf you feel mostly ok, go for it. Often a cold remedy provides enough relief to start your sweat session. Moderate exercise actually boosts your immune system and may help you get well faster. Go easy, though. Intense exercise can reduce immune function, which can slow recovery. If on the other hand, you have low energy or congestion it might be best to stay home and rest. Likewise, if you are experiencing diarrhea or vomiting obviously you should not exercise.

Reach for the thermometer first

Exercise raises your internal temperature. Increasing your core temperature when you have a fever can be dangerous. Instead, stay home and soothe your sniffles. Use the time to catch up on your favorite Netflix marathon or map out your fitness plan for when you are feeling better.

Notice your symptoms

Healthcare professionals generally advise that exercise is okay if you are experiencing symptoms above the neck – fever excluded. For other symptoms such as chest cough or fatigue you get a pass. Remember, exercise isn’t just getting through your routine. You must also give some thought to form and performance. If you honestly don’t have the strength to lift the weight and even getting out of bed feels hard – you can skip without guilt.

Scale back

Feeling just a little under the weather? Consider a walk instead of your usual run or a swim in the heated pool instead of that tennis game. Scaling down so you can stick to your routine can be a good way to keep the momentum going without compromising your health in the long-run.

Be considerate

Hand Sanitizer Squeeze BottleIf you do decide to exercise, keep your germs to yourself. Wash your hands frequently and wipe down any equipment you come into contact with. Sneeze into your elbow rather than your hand and carry hand sanitizer as an extra precaution.

Whether you have a regular exercise routine or are trying to establish one – skipping can feel scary. You may worry that a few days will turn into weeks or months. Stay on track with a jump start plan you can go for as soon as you feel better. Try enlisting a buddy to meet you at the track or tennis court. You aren’t likely to stand her up. You might also sign up for a new class. The excitement of something new – and the fee if there is one – is a surefire way to jump back into your routine.