5 of the Best Exercises You Can Do When You’re Sick

You’ll more than likely get a few dirty looks if you’re the one sneezing, sniffling, and coughing at the gym. While your commitment to your exercise routine is admirable, and we understand that you want to get your cardio and strength training in, there are a few general guidelines on exercising when you’re sick. Life by DailyBurn said you should be fine to continue activity if you have cold-like symptoms. If you suspect you may have a stomach bug or you’re running a fever, though, it’s better to rest up.

If you’re not feeling horrendous and are still determined to hit the gym, we have a few of the best exercises you can perform. Try these moves out the next time you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

1. Walking

Walking is a great exercise to do when you're sick

Walking is a great exercise to do when you’re sick. | iStock.com

If running or HIIT cardio is typically on the roster for your daily exercise routine, consider lowering the intensity to a walk. CNN explains that even a slight head cold can make you feel significantly less energetic, but you can reap the same benefits by just walking for as little as 20 minutes. Walking is particularly great for clearing your sinuses, as you take deeper breaths when you walk, and this helps open up your nasal passages.

If walking still feels too mundane for you cardio-hungry gym goers, then jogging is still fine as long as you scale the intensity back a bit. Jogging will help decongest you, so it can actually be beneficial if you have a cold. If you’re feeling nauseous or vomiting, however, definitely hold off.

2. Yoga

Man performing downward dog

Do some downward dog. | iStock.com

Yoga is perfect for meditation, flexibility, and even strength training. Because yoga is low impact and can be fairly relaxed, you can perform this exercise without pushing yourself too hard. According to National Geographic, studies have shown yoga to have restorative benefits. You’ll feel more relaxed after a 20- to 30-minute yoga session, and this stress-relieving exercise can help boost your immunity as well. You can also perform more difficult yoga poses if you’re finding strength training with weights too strenuous when you’re ill.

Shape shows some great yoga poses to perform when you’re feeling sick, including simple inversions that help move lymph fluid and immune cells through the body. There are also chest opening exercises that may help you take deeper breaths. Even a classic and relaxing stretch like downward dog helps to clear your sinuses.

3. Using a recumbent bike

Man working out on bike

Man working out on bike | iStock.com

Getting to your spin class may be impossible when you’re feeling crummy, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up biking altogether. A recumbent bike, which is a stationary bike that sits lower to the ground, is a good option. Active explains the recumbent bike offers more support to your lower back due to the way you are seated, and because your legs are out in front of you, there’s a lot less stress on your knees and ankles. While the recumbent bike may seem easier to use than a traditional upright bike or other cardio machine, it offers you that good cardio workout you’re looking for without the super high intensity.

4. Qigong

Qigong is perfect to practice when you're feeling ill

Qigong is perfect to practice when you’re feeling ill. | iStock.com

You may not be familiar with this practice, but if you’re a lover of yoga, meditation, or martial arts, then you have to try qigong. The Wall Street Journal explains this practice is closely related to tai chi, though it’s not as heavy on the martial arts. Qigong is gentle, simple to perform, and somewhat repetitive, making it easy to learn. It’s the perfect exercise to perform when you’re feeling under the weather. You’ll feel more energized, your balance will improve, and once you’re finished, your mood is likely to feel uplifted. Whether you’re sick or not, qigong is a practice that you’ll want to consider taking part in, as it has plenty of health benefits that will help heal and repair your body when you’re ill.

5. Water aerobics

Man swimming in a pool

Water aerobics are a good option. | iStock.com

While swimming laps and getting a tough, total-body workout in the pool may be your preferred method of exercise, you should slow down when you’re sick. Medical Daily explains water aerobics are easy on the joints, can still increase your muscular strength and endurance, and won’t have you huffing and puffing the same way swimming laps would.

The gentler speed of water aerobics is ideal if you’re suffering from nasal congestion and having trouble regulating your breathing. The moisture in the air is also helpful for your nasal passages. Save your tough workouts for when you’re in optimal health, and try out this easier aerobic exercise to keep your body moving when you’re not feeling your best.