Can You Work Out While on Antibiotics? A Helpful Guide

Posted May 12, 2021 by Michael Chamberlain - See Editorial Guidelines

For those who have a rigid workout regimen, antibiotics may be something that can affect your workouts. So, understandably, people question if you can perform a workout while on antibiotics.

Here we’re answering that specific question. Beginning with a quick summary…

Can you work out while on antibiotics? Generally, it is safe to exercise while on antibiotics if you’re fit and well. The exception is for sensitive antibiotics like fluoroquinolones. Fluoroquinolones with vigorous workouts can lead to injuries. Engaging in a light workout while on antibiotics can speed up recovery.

Here, the exception is fluoroquinolones or similar sensitive antibiotics. This is because vigorous workouts while on sensitive antibiotics can cause strains, sprains, and even tendon rupture injuries.

Is it safe to undertake a workout while on antibiotics?

Can You Work Out While on Antibiotics

Generally, it’s proven to be safe to work out while on antibiotics.

However, a blanket statement of whether you can work out while on antibiotics – and if it is indeed totally safe – can vary depending on the antibiotic you use.

Also, the duration and intensity of the workout, other health conditions, and even medications are contributory factors. 

In general, you can engage in a “normal” type of workout for most antibiotics.

However, if you have other medical conditions or medications that recommend that you do not engage in exercise, then it’s best to follow any accompanying advice concerning that infection or condition.

So, this recommendation largely assumes that you’re otherwise healthy and well enough to workout alongside the condition you’re taking antibiotics for. 

Antibiotics to watch out for when working out

As we alluded to initially, some antibiotics can pose a risk when it comes to working out. 

One such antibiotic or the most common antibiotic doctors recommend not to work out on is fluoroquinolones. This is a class of medication used for treating conditions such as skin, respiratory, and urinary tract infections.

Some common names of medications in this category are:

The problem with taking this antibiotic while working out is that it can increase a patient’s risk of suffering from sports injuries.

Especially with more vigorous workouts, this type of antibiotic can lead to strains and sprains. In worse cases, it can even lead to tendon ruptures in limbs that – under normal circumstances – would perform fine.

Injury typically occurs in the major tendons subjected to heavy stress, such as the Achilles tendon, knee, quadriceps, and rotator cuff.

Although the risk of these negative effects tends to be more common in people who take high doses, even those taking low doses should not overlook these effects.

Effects for six months

Further to this, even if you’re off the treatment of this antibiotic, its effects can continue for up to 6 months.

Specifically, there is an associated risk of tendon injury for a long time after stopping the treatment.

Therefore, doctors may choose not to prescribe this type of antibiotic to athletes even if they are not in the midst of training. This is why it is important to mention to your healthcare provider how often you work out and how strenuous the activity is that you are performing.

This detail of this long-term effect after treatment was published in a 2014 review

Because of the physical injuries this antibiotic can cause, the FDA has required a label change for all systemic fluoroquinolone antibacterial drugs to reflect this new safety information.

So, can you work out while taking fluoroquinolones?

If you’re asking specifically if you can work out while on the antibiotic “fluoroquinolones,” then the correct answer is no. Even if you plan on performing light to moderate exercise, the probability of causing injury with fluoroquinolone while working out is too great.

Be sure to consult with your healthcare provider and trainer before making any changes. And make sure you ask your healthcare provider the right questions.

General recommendations for workouts while on antibiotics

Can You Work Out While on Antibiotics

Although, in general, it’s safe to undertake a workout while on antibiotics (excluding the exceptions for fluoroquinolones), we recommend you consult with your doctor or trainer- to be on the safe side.

Although the types of workouts won’t change these recommendations, your trainer can scale back the workout to suit your health condition better.

For example, if you let your trainer know you’re on antibiotics and which kind, they may reduce some exercise routines in favor of others, and stop weightlifting, and cut out high-impact exercises, etc.

They may simply alter these exercises to make the workouts suitable for your condition and complement the healing process. 

Fighting some infections and conditions can often make you feel tired and fatigued. Rest is a key component to recovery and equally to help make your medication treatment work well. 

If you do workouts at home, try to reduce the workout load by at least 25%. This will help you avoid dehydration, overheating, and other possible injuries while on antibiotics. Here’s more information on how to get fit at home.

When you’re on antibiotics like penicillin or azithromycin, normal workouts like weightlifting, running, and yoga are generally okay to continue with. Your healthcare provider may just recommend reducing exercise time and avoiding high cardiac activities and heavy loads.

Note – the general recommendation is that you should undertake the type of workout that has the least impact on your body while on antibiotics. However, if you’re taking any workout-sensitive antibiotics like fluoroquinolones, you should not be doing any moderate or intense exercise.

Side effects of working out while taking antibiotics

One of the problems with an infection (the reason you take antibiotics) is that it can often make you tired and weak.

So, when your body is already tired and worn down due to infection, working out on top of that can reduce your ability to recovery properly, negatively affecting your health.

It’s common for many who work out while on antibiotics to feel tired more quickly, thereby leading to additional fatigue.

Remember that while you work out, there are also antibiotics working to fight off an infection. So, your workout performance may not be the best or most effective when you work out while on antibiotics. 

So, the question here becomes not whether you can work out while on antibiotics but whether you should?

Doctors emphasize that resting helps to boost the process of healing while on antibiotics. When you undertake a workout while on antibiotics, it may override the calm and resting phase your body needs for a speedy recovery.

Antibiotics have side effects that affect the GI tract, which causes an upset stomach and nausea. All these make it harder for you to stay well-hydrated while working out. 

Dehydration after working out depletes your body of energy, making workouts a more daunting task while on antibiotics.

Antibiotics and workout supplements

Often working out goes hand in hand with taking supplements.

Many workout supplements, in general, contain caffeine which can detract from the effectiveness of antibiotics. Supplements may also interact with and interfere with the effectiveness of your antibiotics. It’s advisable to discuss supplements and other related issues with your healthcare provider and trainer.

Final thoughts

We hope this has provided a guide for you regarding your antibiotics and working out. As always, consult with your healthcare provider if you’re unsure and before making any changes while on medication.

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