BodyFit

When is the best time to return to exercise after illness?

 
That time of the year is upon us again and quite often our exercise routines are thrown off kilter due to the dreaded cold or flu. It’s enough to put you out for a few weeks mixed with the feeling like you are back to square one with your fitness.
 
You know the symptoms when something is about to strike – the sticky throat, headache and body aches and that feeling like you just aren’t right.  Body signals are powerful things so it’s time to listen to lessen the severity, but when it is OK to resume back to exercise after illness?
 
I used to get a little overzealous and jump straight back into my workouts a little too early – which sent me into relapse.  These days I err on the side of caution because I really can’t be out of action for more than I have to..with a family relying on me, it’s better safe than sorry… .
Now is the time to rest your body and pay special attention to your nutrition. Everything you eat will dictate how quickly you recover from illness. Try not feed an illness with sugary foods and keep hydrating your system.
 
Testing your heart rate is one recommended way to see if you’re coming down with anything.  I haven’t really had much luck with this one over the years.  They say anything over 10 beats of your normal heart rate (taken for 1 minute) could spell trouble and you should just pull that doona back up. 
 
A tough workout stresses your immune system, allowing the virus to take over, it needs as much help as possible in the way of  rest to be fully armed to fight viruses off
I recently read an article where doctor, Mark Wotherspoon from the English Institute of Sport, talk about how he differentiates when is it’s safe to return to your exercise regime after illness.
“Above the neck” such as a runny nose, watery eyes and a mild sore throat means that you can do a light, brief workout – I repeat, light and brief…in fact raising your body temperature may in fact aid in fighting off the virus.
 
If the symptoms are “below the neck” such as cough, congested chest, upset stomach or muscle aches, it means you should give it a miss. This can be dangerous, apart from the fact that it will prolong the severity, and in the extreme case may cause damage to your heart.
 
So, if your a fitness fanatic and find it hard to slow down and rest when illness strikes ask yourself…
 
Am I going to get more out of this by NOT doing the workout?”
 
If so, it is time to rest, you will do more harm than good but remember to return back with caution. Activities that don’t stress the system which are low in heart rate such as walking, yoga, or an easy bike ride can actually help to boost your immunity and make you feel a lot better about yourself.
 
I wrote a post that you might like to check out, on a few nutrition essentials  that I use to nurture my family back to health. Also be sure to take a look at my 6 top tips to help ward off winter illness before it strikes
 
Have you been sick this winter?  How long did it put you out of action?

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  • Lucy

    Karla great post, just wish I’d heeded the warning two weeks ago after recovering from flu – threw myself into a spinning class! 20mins in following a tough sprint I felt dreadful and knew I had to get off the bike, delirious and sweating I lost all colour in my face and nearly passed out, chest infection hadn’t cleared and I went downhill again! Taken it easy since and only just back into things, just not worth it! I was desperate to regain what I’d lost out on following my triathlon set back, but just shows if you’re not fully recovered it can hit hard!

    • Oh no Lucy! I hope you are feeling better now. No time to be feeling yucky now kids around;) x

  • I was all set getting back into my fitness routine when I got a cold and then gastro. Can’t wait until I am 100% again so I can get back into it. Thanks for the advise