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What to Do When You’re Sick & Want to Go to the Gym

Well, it’s the second half of the semester. I  have papers and projects to do, on top of studying for 3 exams, and somehow  (in the midst of it all) applying for grad school.

As if I don’t already have enough on my plate, the universe gives me yet another challenge: I wake up with a nasty cold. Sound familiar?

The worst part about being sick is that it takes away all of your energy. It also makes you hit pause on the gym and working out. So after taking forever to get over this cold and get back into the gym and my normal routine, I compiled this list for you fellow gym rats in the same boat. 

1. REST.

Just about the hardest thing for us go getters to do, is put everything down and simply let our bodies be sick. But your body needs to recover, and the most recovery occurs during sleep. 


Your body is still flushing out the illness, so keep it hydrated. Drink lots of water, perhaps even a sports drink to fill your body with electrolytes. You may not have much of an appetite so stock up on soup – there’s nothing like good ole chicken noodle.


Depending on the type of illness you have, it can affect your workouts when you can get back in the gym – consult your doctor first. But I wouldn’t recommend exercising until the fever and other symptoms like vomiting, stomach aches, chest congestion, body aches, and chills subside.

You also don’t want to risk spreading your germs in the gym to others!

If you must get out of the house, try going for a short walk first or doing a few yoga poses and seeing how that feels. 


Go half speed.

Of course this will depend on the length of your illness, but your body is not going to perform at its best the first time you’re back in the gym. Make sure to go easy on your body, planning for a shorter workout with less intensity. A slower pace is less likely to make you feel worse or cause your symptoms to reappear. When in doubt, wait the extra day before heading back to the gym. 


Of course this time can be frustrating, especially if you were finally in a great workout routine like I was. But the gym will always be there, and you don’t want to push yourself too hard and risk getting sick again. You only have one body- take care of it! 

Extra tip:

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends giving yourself at least two weeks to get back to full intensity of your workouts. Increase intensity slowly with each workout and pay close attention to your body for signs that you’re working yourself too hard. 

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Author Kyndall Herman

Kyndall is in her 5th year at Florida State University obtaining two degrees in Dietetics and Exercise Science. When she isn't in class or studying, she can be found in the athletics department where she is a Sports Nutrition intern working with the FSU football team (#gonoles). In the rare event of some free time she enjoys binge watching netflix, taking naps w her puppy, and a good cup of cold brew coffee.

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