Physical Therapist Richard Szabala Responds:
There are two schools of thought here.
We generally exercise to improve our health and feel better. However, exercising does require increased circulation. When our body is fighting illness, the body increases circulation to the virus to fight off the illness. Will exercising interfere with the body's ability to fight the illness?
According to advice from the Mayo Clinic, if it is a minor illness, such as a cold, you can exercise and it may make you feel better. But if the symptoms of the illness are below the neck, including stomach viruses and chest congestion, or if you are running a fever, you should rest. You may consider decreasing the intensity of your exercise. Instead of running, perhaps take a walk.
It takes about two weeks without exercise for your body to start to lose strength and endurance that you may have built up through your exercise program, so taking a rest will not effect you in that way.
When in doubt, it is best to listen to your body. If you really don't feel like exercising when you are sick, it may be a signal from the body to take a break.
– Richard Szabala PT, OCS
Richard Szabala is the senior physical therapist at AthletiCare Orchard Park.
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