I am in love with grilled veggie sandwiches.  We have a special connection.


I used to eat SO much deli meat, but between hummus, bean, and veggie sandwiches, I don’t miss it at all.




I had grilled zucchini and mushroom (I marinate the veggies in low sodium soy sauce before grilling) with melted cheddar cheese and mustard on an Arnold Sandwich Thin.  


Plus, parsnips:


And grapes:


Should I Exercise When Sick?


The most common e-mail I receive from readers are some variation of the following topic:


  • Should I workout when I’m sick?
  • Should I workout when my knee/foot/arm/hip hurts?


In my opinion, Question #2 is easy to answer.  My answer is always, “You should not work out when your injured or feel an injury coming on,” because (in my experience) it only leads to further damage and more time off your feet.  I ask the e-mailer if they would rather take one week off or two months off.


Whether or not you should workout when you’re sick is so much harder to answer!  Experts say that you shouldn’t exercise is the cold is “below the neck” – meaning, in your lungs.  It’s probably safe to exercise if the cold is “above your neck,” or just nasal congestion. 


I try to gauge whether I feel too exhausted to work out.  When I’m sick and feel exhausted, I know my body is using all it’s extra energy to fight off the illness, and pushing myself on the treadmill or in the pool is going to take valuable resources away from that fight. 


(Similarly, from a Chinese medicine perspective, the Husband says it is absolutely terrible to work out when you are ill, regardless of whether it’s above or below your neck.  Your qi – AKA vital energy force – is depleted and exercising will just make the situation worse.)


Separate of the physical ramifications – let’s talk about the emotional ramifications of taking time off because you’re sick.  Look, I totally get why people who are used to working out on a regular basis freak out when they can’t exercise.  I had an emotional MELTDOWN when I couldn’t work out due to my knee injury.  For me, it was and continues to be important to remember that fitness is one aspect of my life, it does not define who I am.  I’m not going to lose a massive amount of endurance or muscle tone because I take a few days (or even weeks) off.  Although I may really HATE sitting still, it’s important to do it sometimes.  🙂


In summary, working out when sick is a complex issue (well, at least is to me!).  There’s a lot of physical and emotional factors to consider in the decision.  In fact, I’m still trying to decide if I feel good enough to workout tonight – we shall see!  🙂


What are your thoughts on working out when sick?


PS – New Puppy Pictures are up!  Silly ones.  🙂



  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is February 10, 2010, 1:14 pm

    I go by the above/below the neck rule. For myself, I really just pay attention to how I feel. If I feel good enough, I’ll do it.

  • Jessica February 10, 2010, 1:18 pm

    depends on how i feel

    CAITLIN you need AIRBOURN quick.:)

  • Karoline February 10, 2010, 1:18 pm

    My mom (who is a nurse practitioner) maintains that it’s ok to work out unless you have a fever. I also wouldn’t work out if you feel like you could pass out on the treadmill or elliptical. But if it’s a cold/cough/congestion and you don’t have a fever, it’s safe. You can always stop if you feel worse!

  • Angela (Oh She Glows) February 10, 2010, 1:21 pm

    i used to workout when sick, but I dont anymore. I agree with the perspective that it depletes much needed energy to fight the illness. Working out is taxing enough on the body when one is not sick.
    I agree with you that our fitness is just one aspect of ourselves…I took 2.5 months off running and was a bit worried, but I was amazed that my body didn’t lose too much during that time. I think we underestimate our bodies a lot. They remember quite well.

  • Tonyne @ Unlikely Success Story February 10, 2010, 1:23 pm

    I work out if I feel like it. I really can make the decision when it’s sickness without much problem.

    Right now I am dealing with possible injury and I’m going nutso. I have only missed one day so far (a high stress day when I really needed the run!) and I am probably going to have to take tomorrow off too. Wait…this isn’t about me. Sorry. :p

    I would say, if you don’t have a fever and you feel up to it, go for it. Don’t push yourself, if you start to get tired, stop, use common sense. Only YOU know your body.

    • shelly February 10, 2010, 1:25 pm

      That’s a good point, when I know I’m coming down with something or just getting over something, I do an easy workout like using the elliptical or lifting some free weights or going for a short run. It’s not a good time to challenge myself!

  • shelly February 10, 2010, 1:23 pm

    I don’t work out if I feel really lousy. But if I feel a cold, especially a head cold is coming on, I will definitely try to squeeze in a workout in case I can’t work out for like a week after that while I’m actually sick.
    I’m recovering from a really nasty chest cold and I’m feeling fine, although I’m still coughing. In my experience, it takes a couple weeks for me to be entirely free of a cough, so I’ve been working out this week and ignoring the weird looks I get when I have to cough while on the treadmill. Haha.
    Exercise is really important for my mental health (I have an anxiety disorder that I’m currently able to deal with by just eating right, keeping a regular schedule, getting plenty of rest and exercising several days a week. Not that I don’t sometimes need therapy, but for the past couple years, I’ve been successfully controlling it this way) so when I get sick and have to take time off, I find that I start feeling really anxious and upset and angry and overwhelmed. It’s not good at all. 🙁
    So in addition to going through the emotional ramifications of not working out, I have to deal with the ramifications of my mental issues reasserting themselves to some degree. It’s not an insurmountable problem, but I am pretty miserable until I can get in a few days of gym time. I’m going through that right now and every time it happens, I am amazed by how good exercise is for my body and my brain. It’s a great incentive to get right back into my exercise habit instead of slipping into laziness!

    • Caitlin February 10, 2010, 1:42 pm

      it is amazing how good exercise makes us feel. it makes me feel so balanced.

      i’m sorry you deal with anxiety – it is rough, i know. 🙁

      • shelly February 10, 2010, 1:44 pm

        Balanced is the perfect word! It really evens out my emotions and how I respond to things!

  • Whit @ whitinspired.wordpress.com February 10, 2010, 1:25 pm

    It all depends I guess. If I’m worn out and/or have a fever, I don’t push it. If I just have a little cold, I will probably work out. If I don’t go into work, then I don’t work out..it’s hard for me to abide by that rule though sometimes.

  • Cat February 10, 2010, 1:25 pm

    My brother (he has a masters in kinesiology) always tells me to take a day off when I’m feeling super crappy and then do a light workout the next without letting my heart rate go over 120. It sounds like you took a day off today, but also sounds like you might benefit from taking today off too if you’re feeling super icky!

    • Cat February 10, 2010, 1:26 pm

      I meant “yesterday” in lieu of the first “today” in my last sentence. If that makes sense. Oops!

  • Julie @SavvyEats February 10, 2010, 1:25 pm

    I’ve heard the above/below the neck rule, but I also look at my energy level. I know I will recover more quickly if I rest when I am sick and tired, and will be able to get in a higher-quality workout later!

  • Kelly February 10, 2010, 1:26 pm

    I have a lot of problems with this question too. Such I teach little kids I get little sicknesses fairly often and although I’m sure my body could handle resting all that time, it would be way too often for me. I try to gauge how tired I am like you said and sometimes I just do an easier workout than I would’ve done otherwise. It’s definitely not something I have all figured out yet 🙂

  • Jacquie February 10, 2010, 1:28 pm

    I judge it solely on how I feel. I wasn’t feeling well the other day but also felt anxious so I went to yoga yesterday. At the time, I was happy I did it, but afterwards, I felt worse and more depleted of energy.
    I think it’s important to listen to your body and give it the break it needs. Exercise can always wait, but being sick for longer than you have to isn’t worth it!

  • Abby February 10, 2010, 1:30 pm

    That’s really interesting about the qi! Most of my family lives in Asia so they come back with tons of interesting health tips. I think you should get your husband’s input on the blog more often!

  • Katie@ Two Lives, One Lifestyle February 10, 2010, 1:30 pm

    Sometimes a light workout makes me feel better if I have an “above the neck” cold. I don’t exert myself too hard and make sure I get plenty of rest too.

  • Kelly February 10, 2010, 1:31 pm

    I tend to workout when I’m sick unless I’m just totally exhausted. I’m one of those people who FREAK OUT when I can’t exercise. My husband will never forget our first motorcycle trip when the gym shoes just wouldn’t fit in the bag. Although if it is bad enough that I stay home from work then I will probably stay in bed with the covers over my head.

  • Kristine February 10, 2010, 1:32 pm

    thank you so much for this post!!! The words “it does not define who I am” are so powerful! I tend to get so wrapped up in the thoughts that I have to work out or I will automatically not be in shape, but that is so not true. My life should not revolve around working out and when to work out because quite frankly, life is so much better than that! If I happen to be able to fit working out in and I feel healthy enough to work out, then great, but if not, it’s not the end of the world! 🙂

  • Estela @ Weekly Bite February 10, 2010, 1:32 pm

    I follow the basic rule. If its from the neck up, I work out. If its from the neck down… I know I shouldn’t work out, but sometimes do anyway. It depends on how sick I am.

  • Melissa February 10, 2010, 1:33 pm

    I try sooo hard to work out at least 5 days a week, sick or not. I feel incredibly guilty when I can’t. I just had a cold that last few weeks that has dragged on and on. There is no way I would be able to skip working out for that long. On days I was tired, it actually made me feel so much better. I only mainly had a runny/stuffy nose, cough every now and then, and sometimes tired and headache…oh, and MAJOR sore throat.
    The only time I DO NOT work out is if I have the FLU, when my body has ZERO energy and I just physically can’t work out. Even then, I feel guilty for skipping more than one or two days.
    But if I just have a cold, I almost always stick to my 5 days a week program, and always feel fine afterwards. (I’ll just do a 30 minute workout tape at home).

  • Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries February 10, 2010, 1:34 pm

    i definitely use my exhaustion as a gage. if i’m dragging to do errands and light activity, i know my body is not going to like anything involving a treadmill or an elliptical. that said, i’ve rarely felt too sick to light exercise like pilates or yoga. sometimes they even help give me a little extra energy

  • Caitlin February 10, 2010, 1:34 pm

    Oh, this is a big one for me – running competitively all through school meant that you ran through *anything.* Your workout might not be quite as good, but it was the mileage that counted. And really, when I’m feeling a little off, I still go run – many times it even makes me feel better.

  • Michelle February 10, 2010, 1:36 pm

    I have heard of the advice re: above the neck v. below the neck, however, I have always disagreed with it. I get allergies a couple of times a year, and sometimes it affects my sense of balance–I have gotten vertigo. Running outdoors or on a treadmill is a bad idea in that situation! Running with a cough is not as bad imo. Then again I would not recommend running if you are having stomach trouble. Oof, that would be killer. Just go by how you feel I think, but in the end rest is best.

  • Gabriela February 10, 2010, 1:37 pm

    I try to follow the “above the neck” rule too. I definitely get emotional when I can’t work out, too. It just makes me feel better, body AND mind. Funny you posted about this today, Karen wrote a similar one this morning!


  • Lily @ Lily's Health Pad February 10, 2010, 1:38 pm

    Working out when I’m sick always makes me feel BETTER. There are obviously times when I’m too sick to be working out (i.e. if I have an infection), but if I have a simple cold and I’m feeling up to it, I usually squeeze in some exercise.

  • Calla February 10, 2010, 1:42 pm

    Back in my high school days, I ran cross country and track-indoor and outdoor. So I was doing serious running from August-June all 4 years. Even during the two months off I still trained, just not as hard. My senior year I got a cold, but continued to race because it was my last XC season. Unfortunately it was too much for me, and I did not allow my body the healing time it needed and ended up giving myself Mono, and having to sit out my last XC and indoor seasons.

    Now I just practice truly listening to my body. Over the years in college (when you get all kinds of sicknesses from those icky dorms!) I learned that missing one day or even one week of working out was not going to lessen my abilities because it was allowing my body to take the time it needed to heal itself in order to perform its best on my next run/yoga class/weight lifting workout.

    So, my point is, sometimes it isn’t worth those 45mins. outside because you could risk loosing many days if you don’t give yourself time to heal. It all depends on how you feel, and no one can tell you differently because what is best for them, might not be for you. If it’s just sinus congestion-run it out! I believe that it clears it up since you, sorry this is gross but, have to spit so much when you run!

    I hope you have a great day, with or without a workout and that you feel better soon!!

  • Matt February 10, 2010, 1:43 pm

    It takes a lot for me to skip a run 😉

  • Antonia February 10, 2010, 1:45 pm

    I don’t work out if I’m injured but I definitely do when I’m sick if I have the energy. Sometimes (if I’m not contagious), I’ll drag myself to the gym because it always makes me feel better and the symptoms all go away for that little while. It maybe temporary but it’s good relief and I’m happy that I’m exercising.

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) February 10, 2010, 1:46 pm

    I have the same guidelines for working out when sick. And I tend to do at home workouts when just kind of sick so I don’t freak people out at the gym.

  • Freya @ foodfitnessandfreya.wordpress.com February 10, 2010, 1:48 pm

    Love your lunch 🙂 you inspired me to make a grilled veggie sandwich the other day, it was amazing!
    I’m in 2 minds about exercising when sick; the sensible part of my brain says ‘don’t’ cos surely it can’t be good for me? But then when you take into account the emotional factors, I agree – it completley changes things! I go MAD if Ican’t exercise lol! But if I really AM sick (like I was at New Year), I don’t care about exercsie. So I think, if I feel well enough to care and WANT to, I’m probably OK too.
    I also play it by ear; if I’m not sure, I might start, and if I feel too bad, I just stop. I let my body tell me 🙂

    Definetly all down to the individual IMHO. Listen to your body; if you feel well enough, do – if the idea is unappealing, don’t! 🙂

  • Julie @ Pickley Pear February 10, 2010, 1:49 pm

    If it’s just a cold, I usually try to “sweat it out” and typically I do feel better after. I also go by the rule “if I have an appetite, I can workout”. Maybe doing something at home, if possible, would be best to avoid infecting anyone else.

  • Shannon (The Daily Balance) February 10, 2010, 1:49 pm

    can you believe I’ve never had a parsnip? are the like a potato? starchy?

    • Caitlin February 10, 2010, 1:54 pm

      they are sooo good! so flavorful. i can’t even describe them. a cross between a carrot and a potato in flavor and texture.

      • christie, honoring health February 10, 2010, 4:57 pm

        I have been wanting to try parsnips as well but wasn’t really sure what to do with them. Now I do 😀

  • Jenn @ Livewellfit February 10, 2010, 1:50 pm

    I used to be of the mind to workout if the cold is in my head and not chest but nowadays I simply listen to the cues my body is giving me. It I have the very start of a cold (a day or two in) and I still feel well doing my daily activities, I’ll work out! Anything beyond that..I rest. 🙂

    But all of this came after I left the mindset that working out was simply something I did to look good! When working out became about enjoyment, energy, health and improved everything- then I began to pay more attention to my body as a whole. It’s been a long road though!

  • Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) February 10, 2010, 1:52 pm

    I used to LOVE deli meat and turkey/chicken burgers too. And then I went through a phase where I ate tons of Boca. Sometimes I still reach for a Boca patty but I’ve fallen in love with REAL food — making my own veggie burgers, piling veggies and hummus into a wrap, or grilling a portobello. So much good stuff!

  • Megan February 10, 2010, 1:53 pm

    I usually try and listen to my body, so even if the symptoms are above the neck, if I am feeling like it will do more harm than good, then I will skip the workout. I try to remind myself that rest days and recovery days are important too.

    One time I do find a workout helps is for cramps though! I usually feel like I don’t want to run, but afterwards I actually feel a lot better. I know that is not the same as being sick, but it is definitely a time I sometimes feel like not working out, but I have found pushing through is worth it.

  • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete February 10, 2010, 1:58 pm

    I hear you! I’m freaking out b/c of my pneumonia. Well, I’m trying not to freak out. It has been more than a week since I have run. 5 days since I’ve done any exercise. Yes, I’m counting the days. However, I don’t want this to linger any longer than it needs to. I might do a 10 minute ab workout tomorrow, but that is it. I’m still wheezing a little,and my chest still feels tight. It sucks!!

    I say take a day off or two. Your body will probably thank you considering all the working out you have been doing. 🙂

  • MLT February 10, 2010, 2:04 pm

    Caitlin, your lunch looks great!
    Can you tell us what parsnips taste like? They look like potatoes…do they taste potato-ey? Thanks!

    • Caitlin February 10, 2010, 2:05 pm

      they have a really unique and wonderful taste but they are a cross between a carrot and potato in texture!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish) February 10, 2010, 2:06 pm

    i really just play it by ear…sometimes when i’m not feeling great i still feel OK with working out, which makes me feel better. but if i’m completely run down, it’s not happening, and a nap is in store.

    love your lunch! so flavorful and pretty 🙂

  • Wendy February 10, 2010, 2:08 pm

    I just listen to my body. If I feel like I need the extra rest, I take it, no guilt. I’ve learned that you can’t lose THAT much fitness overnight, or even a week, or heck, a month, so I just don’t worry about it.

    I’m also curious what parsnips taste like. They look yummy!

  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) February 10, 2010, 2:09 pm

    For me it really depends on how sick I am. If I’m sneezing and coughing a little bit, a short workout is okay. But if my stomach hurts and that sneezing and coughing goes from a little to a lot, I’m resting my body!

  • katie February 10, 2010, 2:11 pm

    Parsnips are my favorite root veggie, I eat them by the boatloads.

    I don’t mind working out when I have a cold, but anything more serious and I’m happy with keeping it on the couch for a few days.

    It really bugs me when people go the the gym when they’re ill- if you want to work out when sick, great, but keep it outside/at home! Don’t spread your germs around to others.

  • Lauren @ A Fit Foodie February 10, 2010, 2:11 pm

    I usually try to keep working out even when sick. As a Registered Nurse I learned that it’s better to push through a bit to boost your immune system. But if I feel like I’m dying then I definitely rest my way to health. It just depends on how bad you feel.

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! February 10, 2010, 2:12 pm

    Despite my desire to not miss the gym or a run while sick I know that if I go I will only “prolong” my illiness 9 times out of 10 so I don’t! I would rather miss a day or two over a whole week.

  • Deva (VoraciousVorilee) February 10, 2010, 2:13 pm

    I try to workout when I am not feeling well BUT if I find that whatever bug I’ve caught has me feeling run down without a workout, I rest up with tea.

  • amanda@thegrainsofparadise February 10, 2010, 2:18 pm

    If I sick from the neck up then I “might” go to the gym. However, I lay off the surfing and paddling. I hear all the time the the ocean will clear your sinuses but I’m don’t know? The ocean isn’t the cleanest water though…even here in Hawaii…..

  • caronae February 10, 2010, 2:18 pm

    Great little analysis Caitlin! Your timing couldn’t be better — I’m a bit sick myself right now. It’s either food poisoning or a stomach bug type of thing. If I still have energy I tend to workout when sick, at least lightly, but if I am sore all over and just exhausted, then it’s a no. Right now, I’m really tired, so I’m taking at least a day off.

  • Paige February 10, 2010, 2:21 pm

    The only time that I do not work out when I am sick is if my head is hurting to badly. Sometimes, if I am congested, a slow easy run actually helps me get rid of some of the “junk.”

  • Cassie @ A Very Busy Mind February 10, 2010, 2:24 pm

    Those grilled veggies look sodamngood!

    I’m the same as you – I base my decision on my exhaustion level. If I’m pooped, I don’t want to push it. If I’m still able to be up and at ’em, a workout will generally make me feel better!

  • Alex February 10, 2010, 2:34 pm

    I almost always work out when I’m sick, because I almost always feel better afterward! It’s an energy boost for me!

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg February 10, 2010, 2:36 pm

    Mmmm…I love roasted parsnips with ketchup!!! Just like french fries, but healthy!

    I try to keep away from workouts when I’m sick– for the most part, I find that they only make me feel worse (if I’m really sick that is…if I’m just feeling a little “off,” I definitely still work out).

  • Morgan @ Healthy Happy Place February 10, 2010, 2:38 pm

    I never work out when I’m sick. If I do, I always feel worse after. I think if your body is obviously not well, why push it?

  • Karissa @ CardioFoodie February 10, 2010, 2:49 pm

    I am debating this question right now because I can feel myself coming down with something. I usually just listen to my body, if I am too tired then I rest. I kick it back up once I feel better.

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople February 10, 2010, 2:49 pm

    I don’t have a set rule. I go completely by how I feel. Will I feel worse or better after working out? I can usually tell, even before my work out. Like today. I have the WORST cough. And yet, I feel a hundred times better now than I did just an hour ago before I went to the gym.

    And the emotional part is MUCH harder to me than the physical part. I don’t really even think about losing my muscle tone or anything. I worry more about putting on weight if I don’t work out. It’s something I definitely need to work on!

  • Amy @ Second City Randomness February 10, 2010, 2:57 pm

    I am usually not an emotional person. But I cried for an hour in our conference room at work when the doctor called me a couple months ago to tell me I couldn’t run for at least 4-6 weeks (which turned into 8) and to start using crutches. Cried. I don’t think I realized until then how important it was to me. But I also learned the rest is sooooo important!

    • Caitlin February 10, 2010, 3:03 pm

      I feel your pain! Don’t worry – you will heal soon.

  • Stina @ Girl Can February 10, 2010, 3:23 pm

    Generally, I avoid working out when I’m not feeling well. If it’s something minor (the sniffles, a slight cold), I’ll work out, but if I’m truly not feeling well, I skip the workout.

  • Lauren @ Eater not a runner February 10, 2010, 3:23 pm

    I know for me, it only makes me sicker. I have to listen to my body and rest!

  • The Brunette February 10, 2010, 3:31 pm

    Working out hard is never good when you’re sick, I find. No one wants to be on a cardio mavhine next to a person who is blowing their nose and hacking. I often find, hough, that a short workout or a long walk make me feel better. It gets blood flowing, which must be a good thing for illness (but I’m no doctor, so who really knows), and just puts you in a better mood!

  • The Nutrition Nut February 10, 2010, 3:36 pm

    Tough question, but this is how I see it: I exercise to be healthy, and when I’m ill (aka not at optimal health), why would I do something to possibly make my body worse off? My goal in life is to live the healthiest live I can, whether that be exercising for an hour…or taking 5 days off due to the illness at hand.

    – Hillary [don’t miss my giveaway!]

  • Joelle (The Pancake Girl) February 10, 2010, 3:57 pm

    I say no if you’re very sick or congested. Your body needs to recup. A minor cold is usually okay to hit the gym in my opinion, but maybe not a run..

  • Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) February 10, 2010, 4:07 pm

    I love your analysis on the topic!

    As far as taking time off with injuries…ahh…you could not have posted this at a better time! I’m pretty sure I have plantar fasciitis, coming on after an increase in mileage (a careful, 10% increase too!) It’s been literally *painful* to not be running, but I’m doing my best to have a positive attitude about the whole ordeal. For example, today I realized some of the things that I’ve been missing out on because of my heavy involvement with running, and realizing there are *other* things out there to be enjoyed.

    That being said, I’ll still be incredibly overjoyed when this clears up and I can run again. 😉 But I love your quote, that being active doesn’t define you. So true! It’s all part of the incredible balancing act of life. 😀

  • Gracie @ Girl Meets Health February 10, 2010, 4:10 pm

    I was really sick a couple of weeks ago, and I took an entire week off from exercise. It did take a toll on me mentally, especially because I always hear people say “you should exercise when you’re sick – it’ll help you heal faster!” But I knew that it would NOT make my body happy.

    After a few days, I realized that it was actually a *good thing* that I was forced to take time off from exercise. It showed me that if I have this much trouble taking a week off from exercising, then maybe I was becoming just a bit *too* obsessed with it. Since then I’ve made a new exercise regime that has structure – so it doesn’t allow me to overdo it. So far, so good!

    So for me – taking off from exercising when I’m sick is a must. My health is number one – not buring “x” amount of calories.

  • Kalli@fitandfortysomething February 10, 2010, 4:12 pm

    I totally agree with you. I am sick right now-not “on the couch I am gonna die” sick but weak and achy and throaty. I feel sad because I want to run but know it will NOT make me better quicker. I have been walking though……For some reason fresh air makes me feel better.

  • Rachel February 10, 2010, 4:18 pm

    This question has really resonated with a lot of people and hearing everyone’s different perspectives is so helpful! I struggle with taking time off and listening to my body. My situation is a bit different, because I am dealing with an eating/exercise disorder, but it is so, so hard for me to allow rest days. In theory, I generally follow the exhaustion rule. If I feel totally wiped out or dizzy, I will take time off. Logically, our bodies need rest days and time to heal when sick or injured. If you exercise regularly most of the time, a few days or even weeks of rest isn’t going to change your endurance or fitness level. Now I just have to take my own advice!

  • Beth February 10, 2010, 4:20 pm

    Perfect post for me today. I. am. sick. Two weeks ago i felt myself coming down with something and took all the Emergen-c and green sludge in the world, but still pounded the pavement and had a few too many happy hour nights (oopps). Then I got sicker, and Caitlin was one of the people I emailed who told me it was OKAY to take time off and that I would not lose enurance. Well, I AM GLAD I DID because i have pneumonia and it isn’t so bad that i have to be in the hospital, but i still need antibiotics and an inhaler. I am thankful I took that time off. No i will not become fat or lazy overnight. Yes it may be hard to rest and stay still, but I get to read and enjoy my boyfriend, dogs and dinners more in the evenings.

    • Caitlin February 10, 2010, 4:25 pm

      omg i cant believe you got pneumonia!!!! i’m so sorry 🙁 feel better soon.

  • Joey February 10, 2010, 4:22 pm

    I say give it a day & just rest today & get plenty of fluids (what my Dad always tells me!) & see how you feel tomorrow. Do you think it matters as much now if you take a day off as when you were first starting to get in shape?

    • Caitlin February 10, 2010, 4:25 pm

      nope! if anything, i work out more now than before, and i still don’t think it makes a difference.

      • Joey February 10, 2010, 4:29 pm

        But endurance-wise, did it make a difference when you were first starting? I feel like if I take more than day or two off then I’m working on building the endurance back up that I might’ve lost those days… Maybe it’s more of a motivation issue (for me)?

        • Caitlin February 10, 2010, 4:38 pm

          i’m not an exercise expert, but i really dont think you can lose noticeable difference in a day or two (or even three or four). so perhaps its a mental thing for you? exercise is so mental, period.

        • Joey February 10, 2010, 7:06 pm

          Probably. It is so hard to get in shape! I think once I get in better shape it will be easier to stay there than starting this long journey from scratch. (I HOPE!) Well, good luck whichever way you go… Feel better!

  • RunToTheFinish February 10, 2010, 4:27 pm

    Somedays when I’m sick a workout is the only thing that makes me start to feel better…it’s like I sweat out the nastiness

  • Joy February 10, 2010, 4:29 pm

    Hi Sweetie, So sad to know that you’re feeling sick – That Tennessee Winter weather didn’t help. I hope you get over it quickly. I’m still feeling warm though from you visit with me. Love you, Mom

    • Caitlin February 10, 2010, 4:38 pm

      love you mommy.

  • Lisa February 10, 2010, 4:40 pm

    Energy level is my guage. I agree with RunToTheFinish, that sometimes I need to sweat it out, but if I get exhausted by walking to the kitchen or I can hardly breathe, I’ll give in and take the day off. Better to sleep in another hour sometimes and than push it at the gym.

  • Ana February 10, 2010, 4:40 pm

    i sometimes follow the ‘neck rule’, however i prefer to go with how foggy my head feels– and when i say ‘foggy’ i mean being dizzy or if i feel like i can’t think straight. i figure if i feel i can’t really think i definitely should save my energy.

  • Becca February 10, 2010, 4:42 pm

    I go back and forth on this quite often. I’ve learned that instead of using the above/below the neck rule, I decide on a case by case basis. There’ve been some days when I definitely could have worked out, but didn’t and some where I should have stayed in bed, but worked out.

    Anyway, I hope you feel better soon!

  • Ellen Collis February 10, 2010, 4:44 pm

    If I’m just moderately sick (no fever), I’ll do something really light like walking or the elliptical at a slow pace. It usually makes me feel better. Ok, embarrassing question, what are parsnips?? I’ve never had them! What are the nutritional benefits?


    • Caitlin February 10, 2010, 4:45 pm

      i dont know the nutritional benefits of parsnips – they are just a yummy root veggie to me! 🙂

  • Emmanuelle February 10, 2010, 4:53 pm

    I just listen to my body and check my exhaustion level. I have come to realize something though: I worked out a few times when I was sick, felt better immediatly after… to find myself pooped an hour later and feeling worse the next day.
    Last week I got sick for the third time in two months due to a terrible hearing system at my office, and I didn’t fall in the same trap. I was supposed to take a vinyasa yoga class, which I looooooove, but I chose do get some extra hours of sleep, and I believe it was the right thing to do.
    Hope you get better soon!

  • Paige (Running Around Normal) February 10, 2010, 4:55 pm

    I go by your exhaustion meter rule.
    If I’m congested, or have a sore throat, but still feel like I have energy, I’ll workout, and typically even feel better afterward.
    However, if I’m achy, exhausted, and feel like I could crash, I don’t chance it ever.

  • Naomi (onefitfoodie) February 10, 2010, 4:58 pm

    I think it depends what kind of sick this is. As a personal trainer, i would advise my clients to really go by what their bodies tell them. I think its not a smart thing to push your body too hard esp when you are very sick and/or weak feeling. I think that some light cardio can be beneficial to get the blood moving as long as you dont have a fever or feel pain

    you said it perfectly when you said that if your body is efeeling exhausted then you def want to take a day off from working out becuse your body will be pushing itself too hard. Chances are when you get back to teh gym and all better, yoru workouts will be 110%!

  • Kt F @ ThroughTheFinish February 10, 2010, 4:58 pm

    I take off when I’m sick… I started feeling crappy last Tuesday so I immediately bought zinc lozenges and took them according to instructions & took time off running. I was nervous bc I’m training for a race, but I know it’s much better to shorten my sickness than attempt to work out with one that lasts a long time! I really think that bc of the zinc + resting, I got better twice as fast than I would have otherwise. I was better by Saturday!

  • Tyler Ramey February 10, 2010, 5:01 pm

    I have always heard that if it is above the neck…you are good to go for a workout….if the ickyness is below the neck…back it off. Don’t know how true it holds, but some good ole fashioned cardio always makes me feel better, even when sick. Just listen to your body, it knows whats right! 😉

    16 days til the half!!!! Eek!!!! Are you running it?

    • Caitlin February 10, 2010, 5:10 pm

      not sure… need to decide. i haven’t really been running for a half. maybe i’ll do the 15K.

  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) February 10, 2010, 5:07 pm

    I have definitely made the mistake of working out when sick – which only made things worse. So I am all about the few days off if I am feeing unwell 🙂

  • Allison K February 10, 2010, 5:19 pm

    I love puppy yawn pictures!

  • Megan @ Healthy Hoggin February 10, 2010, 5:20 pm

    I always make the call depending on how I feel right before I’d workout. Often times, my body wants rest!! I feel like when I take one or two days to completely rest, I am back to normal in no time!

  • Jocelyn February 10, 2010, 5:32 pm

    I don’t think you should work out when you are sick. You should take time to rest and then work out harder when you are feeling better. You will get more out of it.

  • Kelly February 10, 2010, 5:34 pm

    I read an article, in Runners World I think, that said as long as your symptoms are above the shoulders (no nausea, or things like that) that you are ok to work out. Unless of course you have a fever.

  • Susan February 10, 2010, 5:37 pm

    Most of the time I get sick when I’m run down and sleep-deprived. Usually it’s after a couple weeks of being on the go constantly, sleeping less than 7 hours a night, and high stress. It wears down my immune system so I’ll catch the first thing I come in contact with. So even if it’s just a cold, I like to take a few days off exercise to let my body refuel and recharge. Otherwise I just drag out what could have been a 3 day sickness into a 3 week sickness.

  • Ashley February 10, 2010, 5:40 pm

    I don’t get sick very often, but when I do I am not hopping on the treadmill or putting any workout clothes on. Even if it’s just a head cold I feel like using so much extra energy to work out will just make my head pound even more and make it take longer to get better. I’m sure technically it’s “fine” but when I get sick, I know a few days off form the gym isn’t going to hurt…I believe in rest when sick, and pounding zinc, hehe =)

  • Island Girl Eats February 10, 2010, 6:13 pm

    To exercise or not? I believe in the same thing that you wrote, if it is above the chest, yes, below, no! If I have a runny nose I will still run. If I have a bad cough, no!

    Hope you feel better soon! Did you try a nice HOT bath yet? It works wonders for me!

  • John February 10, 2010, 6:38 pm

    I always work out sick but have learned to take time off for injuries. Seems like I have to take a break from a walking injury….crazy!

  • eatingRD February 10, 2010, 6:44 pm

    I’m a huge fan of parsnips! Kind of sweet and starchy, but not 🙂 I don’t like to workout if I’m feeling under the weather, especially if there are lung issues involved or a fever. Hope you get to feeling better 🙂

  • Jenna @ EatingGreen, StayingLean February 10, 2010, 6:44 pm

    First of all, those veggies look awesome. I LOVVEEEE parsnips, especially roasted.

    Second of all, I agree with the above/below the neck rule, but I also tend to err on the side of caution. I think it’s just super important to listen to what your body is telling you. It’s more important to feel it out than listen to what other people are saying- do what feels the best for you and your body. Sometimes I just skip a workout if I’m overtired, and in the end I think it’s the better choice.

    And also as you said, and I completely agree with, it makes a lot more sense to take it easy rather than risking an injury that will keep you off your feet for more than a week.

  • Jessica February 10, 2010, 6:46 pm

    Ha! You can rarely get me to work out when i’m sick….my parents just always had me rest, and take the several days off from tennis whenever i’d come down with a bad cold–and when i’m all stuffed up, constantly dizzy and weak i can’t imagine working my body very hard! BUT, a nice walk is always great to clear some senses and get fresh air 🙂 I do get antsy though when i can hardly move for very long! So i can understand why you’d get the question a lot.

    LOOOOVE the sandwich. And yum, anything with ketchup sounds SO good right now!

  • Jaya February 10, 2010, 7:09 pm

    There are so many interesting comments here. What a hot discussion! It has taken me 4 months of no exercise or walking to realize that many people (including me) rely on exercise. But what has been amazing about my time off from being active (I mean going from 25+ hrs a week of training to zero) is that I have energy and attention for things that I never would have considered. The more you can be you (i.e be a human being) without doing what you feel defines you (i.e be a human doing), the more you can learn about what else life has in store. Having said that, being active is awesome and I am so glad that people are beginning to really embrace the joys of crazy vigorous workouts, slow and enjoyable walks and even feminizing physical strength. I think that the body, in its infinite wisdom, always knows the answer to that perennial question…to exercise or to rest?

    • caitlin February 10, 2010, 7:58 pm

      good comment!

  • Andrea February 10, 2010, 8:34 pm

    I am amazed at how well you deal with setbacks and how positive you are. Thanks for the reminder that taking care of yourself emotionally and physically is number one.
    I’ve been reading your blog since the very beginning and it’s become such a part of my day to ready your posts. You are one of the reasons I started my own blog, a place where I can share my recipes and the foods that I enjoy. If you can, I would love for you to check it out!
    Thank you!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing February 10, 2010, 8:36 pm

    It really depends for me. If i’m completely and totally exhausted or feel just overall yucky.. nope. Unless it’s something like yoga. But if it’s just a slight cold, I would.

  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) February 11, 2010, 1:14 am

    I say if you have a flu or infection (or any fever, chills, headache, aching) then give your body a break as it needs all its energy to fight an infection. If you have a virus, like a cold, go for it! Just my “unprofessional” opinion 🙂

  • whitney February 11, 2010, 7:17 am

    I used to say as long as you did not feel deathly ill or have a fever it was ok to workout but I have now realized that your body needs a break. We break down our bodies continuously everyday and working out while your body is also dealing with unfamiliar bad bugs just makes your body work that much harder and could take longer to feel better.

    Also, when you don’t feel up to par and you work out all you want to do when you come home is sleep or lay around which makes for a less productive day if you have “loads of ****” to do haha

  • Erin @ Erin Eats and Exercises February 11, 2010, 9:39 am

    When Im sick and on the fence, I will try to just do a little something for about 20 minutes and see how I feel. Sometimes getting my blood pumping actually makes me feel better then I can go beyond the 20 minutes.

    If I still feeling sick at that point, home for me! Sometimes I think its the end of the world (… I know its not) if I don’t get a planned workout in. I’m working on listening to my body better and am starting to realize (like you said in your post) that missing at workout doesn’t mean Ill lose muscle mass or endurance!

    Great post (and comments)! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way!

  • Ali @ Food, Fitness, Fashion February 11, 2010, 11:58 am

    It depends on how sick I am. If I have a little cold, Iw ill work out, but if it is something more, I won’t

  • Kristilyn (My 29th Year) February 11, 2010, 6:28 pm

    I definitely think you should go with your gut. If you can’t handle walking up the stairs without breaking a sweat and getting dizzy, then maybe a workout isn’t a good idea. But, if you’re feeling okay, start slow and see how you feel – don’t just plow into a heavy workout!


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