I am sick for the third time in two months! It’s really starting to bug me.

Athletes are often “power through”-type people. But that’s not always a good idea. There are times when powering through can help, but there are times when it will only make things worse.

Are You Too Sick to Work Out?

As flu season gets into full swing, here are some guidelines to “run” by:

Remember the “neck rule”

Above the neck (headache, sniffles, stuffed up nose or scratchy throat), you should be just fine to exercise. Below the neck (chest or lung congestion, fever, or aches and pains), don’t exercise.

“The above-the-neck rule is a good one, but I’d say severe above-the-neck symptoms warrant cessation from regular exercise until the symptoms abate,” said Jeffrey Woods, PhD, professor of kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in an article on CNN.com.

Take it easy

Once you feel “good” enough to try to exercise, don’t go back to 100 percent right away.

In the CNN.com article, “Signs You’re Too Sick to Workout,” Daryl Rosenbaum, MD, director of the Sports Medicine Fellowship at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, advises starting at 50 percent intensity. Then, if your symptoms improve after the first 5-10 minutes, then you can gradually increase your effort and work up to “about 80 percent to 90 percent of your usual routine.”

Said Dr. Rosenbaum in the article: “Studies have shown that people suffering from the common cold who get up and get moving actually feel better. If you go too far, however — either with extreme short-term activity or long-term overtraining — the immune system weakens. A viral cold that is allowed to linger for longer than normal could create sinus conditions that are ripe for a bacterial sinusitis to take over.”

Here are a few more articles to help you decide whether or not you are too sick to work out:

Are You Too Sick to Work Out?

When Am I Too Sick to Work Out?

When Not to Exercise