By: Katie Bender

It’s that time of year again when the flu is running rampant in our communities. Of course we always have the question, should I work out or not? Do I sweat out the virus or sleep it off? I am by no means an expert on being sick and of course what the Doc says trumps all, but I can speak from experience.

I recently read an article posted by the American College of Sports Medicine on a study done by Thomas G. Weidner, Ph. D. at Ball State University involving 50 moderately fit students, who were divided randomly into two groups: exercising and non-exercising. Each volunteer was injected with cold germs and tracked for a 10 day period. The study revealed that exercising at a moderate intensity level (biking, treadmill jogging, step machine) does not increase the severity of the cold or alter immune response.

However, high intensity exercise such as weight lifting or CrossFit has been shown to have a negative impact on the immune system during a cold or infection. Essentially, you’ll want to stay out of the gym and keep your exercise at a low level.

If you have a runny nose, sneezing or a scratchy throat, it may be safe to exercise at low intensity levels (which is not what we tend to do at CrossFit). I’d play it safe and go for a jog, take your dogs on a walk, etc.

Nobody enjoys being sick, but it happens and we have to deal with it when it does. If you come in while sick, you are likely to spread it to others and make yourself worse. I understand how frustrating it is to take time away from the gym, but the more rest and recovery you get, the quicker you will likely be back in the gym.

If you do come in after being sick, please be sure to wipe down anything and everything you touch to help us avoid spreading any nasty sickness. This includes barbells, kettlebells, pull up bar, wall ball, dumbbell, doorknobs, lights switches, etc. It seems once one person comes down with something, we are all bound to get it, but let’s do our best to keep it out of our home away from home.

1. Thomas Weidner et al, “Effect of exercise training on the severity and duration of a viral upper respiratory illness,“ Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
2. Maia Applby,