Is it safe to exercise when you’re sick?

Earlier this week the debate about exercising (and in this case participating in an event) when you’re sick, came under the spotlight again after Louis Du Preez, a “healthy” 39 year old man collapsed in the final stage of the Comrades Marathon, and later died in hospital. It turns out that Du Preez may have had a viral infection which led to organ failure.

So does that mean it’s not safe to exercise when you’re sick – our resident Doctor weighs in.

We spoke to Dr Russell Thomson from Hello Doctor and he says it depends on the type of exercise, and what’s ailing you. If you have a slight head cold then moderate exercise should be fine if you feel up to it. However, if you’re man down with a fever then it’s best to stay put. Why? Because raising your body temperature if you already have a fever can make you even sicker. There are also other times when you should give exercise a miss, and the general rule of thumb here is this:  If your symptoms are above the neck, including a sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, and tearing eyes, then it’s OK to exercise. If your symptoms are below the neck, such as coughing, body aches, fever, and fatigue, then give exercise a miss until these symptoms subside completely.

Read more about Louis Du Preez.

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