Sometimes you just can’t avoid getting sick, and this means putting your daily workout on hold. Since momentum has a huge influence on maintaining a fitness regimen, a bout of illness is, at the very least, inconvenient.
If it was nothing more than the common cough and cold, you should be able to exercise again shortly.
But if you suffered from something more taxing like pneumonia or even just the flu, you could be sidelined for up to a month.
Such an illness would have messed with your cardiorespiratory system, and your body would be exhausted from fighting infection.
Smart Way to Resume Exercise
Whether you’re recovering from a minor ailment or a more serious health crisis, you can’t just jump back into your routine. Doing so may have severe repercussions. Here are steps that will help you ease safely into your regular workout after sickness.
Recognize that your body is in a weakened state.
After a hiatus from exercise, your body needs to build up again to your former fitness level. There’s an adjustment period. You can’t expect to automatically recover your old strength as soon as you get well.
From being idle for some time, your muscles would not be as toned, so they would get sore more quickly. Working them too hard might lead to a sprain or tear.
Neither would your immune system be at full strength. While exercise does help boost immunity, you have to remember that you’re much more limited after sickness. Insisting on pushing past those limits would be detrimental to your immune system.
If you’re an athlete and you’re anxious to retrieve your former prowess, you might be tempted to cram for an event. Don’t try to speed up your recovery by playing catch-up. This will only bring the opposite effect. It may cause a relapse or even a new injury.
You have to accept that your body is weaker; otherwise, you could overtax it.
Start with walking.
Running may have been nothing to you before, but after an illness, you may find that a leisurely stroll around the block is enough to wear you down.
Taking walks is a good first step in easing back into more strenuous activity. It’s not officially a workout. Still, you can gauge your capacity for exercise by simply strolling around your neighborhood.
Not only will this tell you whether your body is strong enough or not, but it will also condition your muscles for more strenuous exercise in a few days or so.
Here’s an important marker for working out: You should have been free of fever for at least 48 hours, sleeping well, and no longer suffering from aches and pains before you can exercise again. Otherwise, you could end up aggravating any lingering symptoms and causing a relapse.
This is especially critical if you’re still experiencing persistent cough with phlegm . Tiring yourself out won’t help whatever’s still going on in your respiratory tract. Part of cough management is getting as much rest as possible. It’s pretty hard to beat a cough without getting proper rest.
Follow with cardio.
When you can walk some distance without suffering, you could start on cardio exercises. Amplify your temporary routine with a spin on a bike, a swim, or a go at a StairMaster or an elliptical machine.
You may have the idea that yoga or Pilates are good exercises to start with, but strength work should really be reserved for later. They are all about straining your muscles, something that you should avoid until you’re much stronger. Build up your stamina, endurance, and mindset first before you issue a greater demand on your body.
Halve your workout volume.
Once you’re exercising, make sure that you go at everything just at 50 percent. If you used to work out for an hour, shorten your stretch to just 30 minutes. If you used to run two miles, limit yourself to just one.
This is all temporary anyway; you just need to be patient. Let your body get used to exercise gradually to avoid unnecessarily straining it.
You can evaluate your body’s response to the toned down routine. You’ll be able to tell when you’re ready for more. Listen to your body and heed its message. It could be saying to stay at the current level, push forward to higher intensity, or dial back. Don’t ignore its cues.
Keep in mind how important it is to avoid fatigue. The temptation to push yourself hard is understandable, considering the combination of mental guilt over “slacking” for some time and desire to build momentum once again. Remember, however, that doing too much too soon will just further delay your chance to get back into fitness consistency again.
Intensify a little at a time.
Don’t jump from 50 percent to a hundred percent. Bump up your workout bit by bit, always evaluating your body’s response to any addition.
You’ll eventually get back to your old fitness routine if you don’t hasten the process.
You can’t force good health. The only way to sabotage your own complete recovery is by injuring yourself with overuse and setting yourself back with fatigue.
Hydrate like clockwork.
Staying hydrated is essential to keeping healthy. The body is made up mostly of water and you have to maintain its water content to sustain life.
You also have to drink lots of fluids when you’re sick not only to replenish lost water, but to help flush out toxins and germs as well.
Hydration is obviously necessary when exercising, but even more so when you’re just coming out of sickness. You don’t want to be dehydrated as this will make it harder for your body to fight off any lingering infection.
Accept that you have to go through a process to ease back into your old routine. Recovering your good health won’t be as instantaneous as you want, but taking your time is the only smart way to go.
If you rush it, the penalty could be severe, so be patient and take things step by step, one day at a time.