Exercise image courtesy of flickr/laurentjeanphilippe

There is no question that getting enough physical exercise is crucial for improving and maintaining your health. Do you want to feel better? Do you want to sleep better? Do you want to look better? Ask these questions to almost anyone, including doctors and other health care professionals, and their response will likely include getting enough exercise. There is one question, however, that we do not often ask: is there ever a time when exercising is a bad idea? You may be surprised to learn that yes, exercising is sometimes a horrible idea.

Read the following information below to find out more about when you should or should not exercise.

When You Are Sick

Some people are adamant that exercising through coughs and colds is perfectly fine and that it can even help you get over what ails you. Many doctors agree for the most part, but there are some cold and flu factors that will dissuade almost any health care professional from encouraging you to exercise. Fever is one of those factors. During a fever, your body temperature rises in an attempt to help your immune system. Exercise could be considered dangerous when you have a fever because it will raise your temperature even more. This can make you much sicker and slow your recovery time. Diarrhea is less of a factor, but your doctor may suggest you skip your run if you have the runs. Diarrhea causes dehydration, and exercising will dehydrate you even more. Staying hydrated is crucial for your recovery when you are sick, so you might want to consider skipping your exercise until you feel better.

When You Take Certain Medication

In many cases, doctors will suggest exercise in addition to the vast assortment of medications that they prescribe, including medication for depression, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. In fact, it is usually non-prescriptive (over-the-counter) drugs that should have you re-thinking your workout for the day. Most common, over-the-counter medication like Advil and Ibuprofen causes drowsiness, which can disrupt your hand-eye coordination, make you clumsy, and lead to an injury when you exercise. Any medication (prescriptive or not) that causes any kind of sedation should have you avoiding exercise until its effects have completely worn off. Although it is normally good to get your exercise, it might be even better that you avoid an injury that could prevent you from exercising for an even longer period of time. Regardless, when your doctor prescribes you with a medication, you should always ask them if you can exercise while taking it.

When You Are Recovering From Surgery

After an operation you will likely be scolded by everyone, including your doctor, about how you need to take it easy and rest while you recover. Properly recovering from surgery is vital or you could end up back in the hospital. Some of the major concerns that directly follow an operation are bleeding and infection. While you are recovering, you are highly susceptible to bacteria, and any added stress on your body could cause your wounds to bleed or even open. Needless to say, when you are recovering from surgery, you should not even be thinking about exercising. If you are worried about when you can start exercising again, your doctor will tell you exactly when you can begin exercising. As always, if you are not sure ask your doctor first.

When You Have a Heart Condition

Exercising with a heart condition or any medical condition that could lead to heart failure, heart attack, or stroke comes with complications. If you have a heart condition, a history of heart trouble, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, speak to your doctor before you begin exercising. If your doctor says it is okay for you to begin exercising, you should be mindful of the intensity of your exercise and heed your doctor's advice. Do not begin strenuous exercise right away, you should work your level of intensity up slowly. This helps you strengthen your body and your heart while preventing any further complications. Unfortunately, if you have severely high blood pressure or severely high cholesterol, your doctor may tell you not to exercise at all. You may also be asked to stay rested and relaxed if you have a history of severe heart attack or stroke.

When You Are Pregnant

When you are trying to become pregnant and start a family, most doctors generally recommend that you get regular exercise. Regular exercise keeps you strong, fit, and ready for the hardships of both pregnancy and delivery. In regards to fertility, exercise acts on an individual basis: some women may become more fertile due to physical exercise, while some women may become less fertile. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your fertility. If you are pregnant, however, your doctor may ask you to limit some of your exercise. You may be asked to exercise at a less intense level, to do low-impact exercises, and to stick to aerobic exercises rather than strenuous activities such as weightlifting. Some women, who do not normally exercise, may want to begin exercising when they get pregnant to stay strong. Women who want to begin exercising when they become pregnant should speak to their doctor first.

When You Have Asthma

Unfortunately, exercise is a major trigger for many people with asthma. Asthmatics may experience coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or chest pain when they exercise. If you experience these asthma symptoms only when you exercise, you may have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, or EIB for short. For those with asthma, exercise may even cause an asthma attack, which is a sudden and severe onset of these symptoms that make breathing very difficult. If you have asthma or EIB, you should always carry a rescue medication when exercising in case you experience an attack. Some symptoms may not begin until after you have stopped exercising. Regardless, speak to your doctor about any asthma symptoms that may occur during or after your exercise.

When Your Blood Sugar is Too Low

People who have issues with their blood sugar levels should also pay attention to their doctor's advice when it comes to exercise. Exercise causes your blood sugar level to drop as your muscles use the glucose in your body to work. For those with type 2 diabetes, exercise is generally one of the most common and effective recommendations to keep blood glucose levels in check. However, it can be dangerous when your blood sugar is too low. Dangerously low blood sugar is a condition called hypoglycemia. The symptoms of hypoglycemia include headache, blurry vision, trouble thinking or concentrating, unexplained fatigue, fast heartbeat, shaking, and fainting. Low blood sugar and hypoglycemia is dangerous because it can lead to seizures and even cause you to fall into a coma.

Despite all of these concerns, exercise is still one of the best and most crucial things that you need and that you can do to improve or maintain your health. Even if you have a health condition, your doctor will likely still suggest you get some form of exercise.


Exercise During Pregnancy | WebMD.com

Exercising When Sick: A Good Move? | WebMD.com

How to work out after sickness, surgery, or injury | DallasNews.com

What Is Exercise Induced Bronchoconstriction? | AAFA.org

Get Smart About Exercise and Hypoglycemia | Joslin.org

Physical Activity and Blood Pressure | Heart.org

Work Out Safely – Even with High Blood Pressure | Prevention.com

Being active when you have a heart disease | NLM.NIH.gov

Physical Exercise | Wikipedia.org