Skip to content

    Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

    Select An Article

    Exercise and the Flu

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Regular exercise plays a starring role in keeping you healthy and preventing illnesses. It strengthens your immune system and helps fight viral and bacterial infections.

    Could it keep you from getting the flu this year? Or what if you've already come down with symptoms? Should you push yourself to work out anyway? We've got answers for you.

    Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

    Swine Flu FAQ

    The H1N1 swine flu virus appeared in the U.S. in April 2009 and never went away. After sweeping the globe, U.S. H1N1 swine flu cases surged as schools opened in the fall. What is H1N1 swine flu? What can we do about it? WebMD answers your questions. What is swine flu? What are swine flu symptoms? Who is at highest risk of H1N1 swine flu? Help! I've been exposed to swine flu. What should I do? If I think I have swine flu,...

    Read the Swine Flu FAQ article > >

    Can It Prevent the Flu?

    Maybe. The best way to stay well is to keep your immune system strong. When you exercise, your white blood cells -- the ones that fight infections -- travel through your body faster and do their jobs better.

    Experts say you should get at least 30 minutes of moderate cardio like walking, swimming, biking, or running each day.

    There are other benefits to being more active, like less stress and better sleep. Stress is bad for your body and mind. You can ease it with regular exercise. Get 7 to 8 hours sleep a night, too, because that also helps keep your body's defenses in good shape.

    On the other hand, too much exercise -- like spending hours at the gym or running marathons -- can bring your immune system down. Extreme workouts can slash the number of white blood cells you have and boost the level of stress hormones in your bloodstream.

    Can I Work Out if I Have the Flu?

    Try to take it easy. Rest gives your body a chance to recover. Your immune system works best when it isn’t in overdrive.

    If you have a fever, skip the workout. People usually run one for 2 to 5 days when they have the flu. It means your body is battling the infection. A high temperature pulls moisture out of your body. So does a workout. If you get too dried out, it could delay your recovery.

    Also, the flu is contagious. You can spread it to others for up to 7 days after your symptoms start. If you work out around other people, wait until your fever breaks and stays down on its own for at least 24 hours before you go back to your routine.

    If you don't have a fever yet but you do have other flu symptoms, talk to your doctor before you head to the gym.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on January 20, 2015
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    hot toddy
    15 tips to help you feel better.
    man sneezing into elbow
    Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
     
    teen girl coughing
    Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
    elder berry
    Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
     
    Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
    Slideshow
    cold weather
    VIDEO
     
    Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
    Article
    Boy holding ear
    Slideshow
     
    woman receiving vaccine shot
    Article
    woman with fever
    Article
     
    Waking up from sleep
    Article
    woman with sore throat
    Slideshow