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How to Workout When You’re Sick, Sore, or Just not Feeling It

How to work out when you're sick or unmotivatedBy Kristin Sidorov
We’ve all been there: Suddenly one of life’s little hassles pops up out of nowhere and ruins your best laid plans of sticking to your workout routine. Maybe you had one too many drinks last night, had to work late, or you’re still hurting from that ambitious bike ride you took this weekend. How can you overcome the urge to bail on the gym?

Whatever the reason, don’t let it derail your goals — instead modify your exercise routine to not only get in your workout, but to also help beat back those stressors that life has thrown your way.

When You’re Sick
For die-hard fitness fanatics, it’s hard to admit to being just too sick to work out. The truth is, sometimes it’s OK as long as you know what you’re doing, take it easy, and avoid the gym (because seriously, no one wants your germs). In fact, some believe that a workout can actually help you feel better. Generally speaking, if your symptoms are above the neck (stuffy nose, sore throat, headache) you should be okay to workout safely, in moderation. If your symptoms are below the neck (fever, chest congestion, achy body) then you need to cool it and rest up. Just listen to your body, and no matter what, take it easy.

It’s also a good idea to cut the intensity and duration of your workout until you’re back in tip-top shape. Do some light cardio, like the elliptical or walking, and be sure to get lots of rest in between.

When You’re Sore
While it’s important to take a few days to rest up, sore muscles aren’t an excuse to skip out, especially if you’re just starting out. In fact, a light workout can actually help ease some of that pain and tightness. Just be sure to stretch a lot and often and don’t overwork tired muscles–that’s how injuries occur. Instead, focus on other muscle groups that aren’t as sore, or try an overall body workout that isn’t too strenuous, like walking, jogging, or swimming. Yoga is also a great option because it combines muscle work, stretching, and relaxation.

When You’re Just Not Feeling It
If you’re tired, cranky, or just plain unmotivated, the mere thought of exercise can be akin to torture. But excuses won’t help you reach your goals, and chances are, once you get going you’ll find you’ve beat back those workout demons within the first 10 minutes. Feeling stressed? Try doing something high-energy, like kick-boxing. Anxious or tense? Go for yoga, or concentrate on weight training to help focus your mind. And while it’s important not to overexert yourself if you’re exhausted, it’s been proven that exercise can help you fight fatigue and sleep better, too. Even if you’re coming off of a 12-hour workday, take a quick walk or hike to clear your mind and get moving. You’ll be glad you did!

How do you stay motivated to exercise?


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