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Can you do sports when you are sick

Can you do sports when you are sick

Can we do sports when we are sick?

The reality of athletes

As an athlete, preparing for Ironman, I was confronted with this problem.  As a physiotherapist, I looked for a scientific article that could answer the dilemma: do we train or rest when we are sick? According to the following article The physician and sportmedecine, there is a quick way to know if a person can practice a physical activity when they are sick. 

Use your common sense 

First of all, he recommends using common sense and asking yourself the following question: Am I fit enough to do sports or physical activity with my current condition? If the answer is no, then of course the athlete should refrain.  If the athlete still decides to exercise, he/she should pay attention to the symptoms and take into consideration the following table: The neck check.

Evaluate your symptoms


Image from Swiss Medical Journal

If the symptoms are only present above the neck as follows: sore throat, headache, blocked or runny nose, sneezing, then the person can practice his physical activity but at 50% of his usual intensity. If the symptoms worsen during the activity, the activity must be stopped immediately.

If the symptoms are present below the neck, such as fever (above 38°), muscle pain, chills, diarrhea or vomiting, complete rest should be observed.

The risks of the practice

What are the risks if I decide to do physical activity when I have symptoms below the neck?

If you have a fever, it is likely that there is a virus in your body that is trying to get rid of it. If this virus were to get into the lungs or heart, it would be very damaging. The risk would be a sudden and intense rise in body temperature or heart failure. This could worsen the case, and therefore prolong the rest period until the next training session.

Start again

If there is any doubt, it is strongly recommended to take a few days of rest, and avoid a worsening of the symptoms. This way, training can be resumed in better conditions and gradually. A good day of rest is better than a bad day of training.


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