Body By Kit: Exercising When You're Sick


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Body by Kit

"Exercising When You're Sick" by Kit Rich

Tis the season!  The winter holidays are around the corner! It’s the time for scarves, cute winter coats, rain boots and a splash of red lipstick—all the blessings that brisk weather brings. But, as nature would have it, tis also the season for coughing, aching, sniffling and sneezing. When the cold rushes in, so do the dreaded symptoms of the common cold.

During the holiday season, it is imperative to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  A few bites of pie here and a lick of whipped cream there add up over time, and the next thing you know, you’re as stuffed as a holiday turkey. Not to mention that the older you get, the harder you have to fight to get those extra pounds off. With all the candy, pie and heavy dressings headed your way, working out is the perfect prescription for keeping your body in balance.

But along with the common cold, comes the common question, could you—should you—work out if you’re sick? Are you being naughty or nice to your body, and those around you, if you sniff and sneeze your way through a 50-minute boot camp?

The answer to this depends on whether or not the sickness is above the neck or below. Above the neck symptoms include nasal congestion (such as stuffy nose and sneezing), sore throats and teary eyes. Below the neck symptoms involve fever, chest congestion, coughing, aching body and fatigue.

If you are sick above the neck, working out is typically okay especially if you are someone who exercises regularly. Actually, it may help reduce these symptoms, since working out can release toxins from the body. But if your symptoms lie below the neck, it is best to avoid working out until your symptoms subside and you feel better. If your symptoms lie below the neck, working out can make matters worse and keep you your head on that pillow longer than expected.

Obviously, you know your body better than anyone. If your above-the-neck symptoms hit you like a ton of bricks, taking a few days off is very beneficial and resting is the best healing agent.  If you decide to work out, make sure you don’t run yourself into the ground, literally. Pilates or Yoga are great options for those with the common cold as these fitness regimes are very restorative and rejuvenating for the body. But please listen to your body, rest if your body tells you to. A few days off will not change the look of your body.  

If you do decide to work out while sick, it is best not to take a class since sickness spreads like wildfire. Although I applaud you for staying fit through the snow, sleet and sneeze, coming to class while sick could potentially run the risk of you giving it to someone else. Also why put yourself through the evil stares and whispers from your workout neighbors. Instead, try a Pilates or Yoga DVD at home or go for a run on the treadmill during off hours at the gym. If you do use the equipment at the gym, make sure you sanitize the equipment after use and wash your hands constantly.

If you take care of yourself and those around you this holiday season, you will able to enjoy all the festivities sniffle free and still be able to fit into that Little Black Dress—with tights underneath, of course.

Here’s to your health! xo


Naughty (don’t work out!)

  1. If you have a fever

  2. Congestion in the chest and coughing

  3. Very lethargic and can barely get out of bed

  4. Body aches

Nice (okay to work out if you really want to)

  1. Sore throat

  2. Sneezing

  3. Sniffling

  4. A little teary eyed

Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness