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How Soon Can I Start my Exercise After Being Sick?

By Nikita Banerjee +2 more

”How sick is too sick to exercise? When can I resume my workout?”, these questions can haunt anyone who strictly follows an exercise routine. No questions about the health benefits of exercising, however, strenuous exercises while recovering from a serious illness can be hazardous. Returning to exercise after sickness can be strenuous on the body and even intensify the symptoms of a sickness. Overtaxing your body after a prolonged illness can be risky. Your muscles would have been idle for weeks and will get sore a lot quicker. One could risk a muscle sprain or a tear.

Ideally, suffering from a common cold with the usual symptoms of a runny nose, or a sore throat is not a good reason to skip your exercise; instead exercising in this condition can help speed up your recovery. On the contrary, after a week or maybe a month-long of nasty illness, returning to regular exercise regimens can be a challenge.  It is a known fact that after a long illness, your cardio-respiratory fitness has drastically diminished and all your body energy is drained fighting the infection and jumping back to routine can do more harm than good. One’s immune system isn’t back to its full strength after fighting off an illness. Routine exercise increases immunity, but overtaxing your body could lead to a drop in immunity for the next 24 hours. 

Exercise after illness

Ideal Time To Start Your Workout

The answer is to Wait. Wait until your symptoms have disappeared. Wait until you have gained enough strength. Wait until your body decides you’re ready for it. For e.g., while recovering from a respiratory illness wait at least 2 weeks after your symptoms have resolved to start your workouts. Avoid working out even when you have a fever. Your body temperature is already high and exercising will not only cause your heart rate to increase but also dehydrate your body. You may also consult your doctor for advice on when you can start your workout and the intensity of workouts.

When you finally do start with your workouts, avoid being too harsh on yourself. Do not try to make up for all your missed days at the gym. Rather start with a workout plan that is of shorter duration and lower intensity. Over-working after a prolonged illness can result in elevated cortisol level which is an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive thus preventing the immune system from fighting infections towards repairing muscles and thus making your muscles sore. The depression of your immune system can cause the illness to come back, sometimes stronger than before. Make sure to stop when you feel dizzy or nauseated.

The aim should be to resume your workouts slowly and at the same time learning to listen to your body and in knowing when to stop considering your present health condition. Here are a few tips you can follow to resume your workouts:

Also Read: Does Skipping Reduce Weight? Examining the Facts and Myths

Test Yourself

  • Make sure you have a normal resting heartbeat. This is a good indication that you are ready to start working out again.
  • Assess your breathing. In case you feel fatigued or out of breath, you probably aren’t ready to start with the workouts.
  • Doing only 50% of your pre-sick workout is suggested. Work up gradually from 50% to help your body ease back into your exercising routine.

Read More About 14 Things That Cause Fatigue

Tips To Prevent Relapse

  • Take it easy with your workouts. Switch to shorter, slower and lower intensity exercises.
  • Nourish your body with a well-balanced diet and plenty of liquids. Fruits and vegetables are good choices. Drink lots of soups and broths.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Do not exert yourself.
  • Stop feeling guilty. Take your time to emerge stronger and healthier.

If you’re running a fever, you should not work out, because the energy needed by your immune system to fight off bacterial infections will be compromised if you exercise. It is advisable to wait for atleast 48 hours after fever subsides before resuming exercising.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

Tips For Resuming Workouts

  • A good way to resume exercising is ”not to rush it”. Make full recovery before you return to your exercise routines. Avoid vigorous exercise immediately after recovering from a cold or flu; Start with lesser intensity and shorter duration workout plans for the first few days after recovering from an illness.
  • Make sure to complete your course of medications.
  • Stay inside, especially in chilly weather and avoid outdoor cardiovascular exercise. And, stay warm. Hooded sweaters and fleeces are great for keeping your defences up and your head and neck protected.
  • Boost your immunity by increasing your intake of vitamin C.
  • Don’t panic or get depressed because you weren’t able to exercise while you were sick. Always make it a priority to manage your stress levels.
  • Pay attention to how you feel when you start working out. Make no compromises when it comes to your health.
  • Don’t linger in damp clothing. The cold, damp clothes could lower your body temperature further, making you more susceptible to catching a cold.
  • Try isometric exercises. They are exercises that are done with your body completely still and prevent moving through long ranges of motion.

Must Read About: How to Stay Fit and Healthy?

Follow the above-mentioned healthcare routine to resume your exercise schedule smoothly. Make a complete recovery and there won’t be anything keeping you away from returning to your previous levels of fitness.

Read More About: What Is the Best Time To Exercise?

Disclaimer: The above information has been prepared by a qualified medical professional and may not represent the practices followed universally. The suggestions listed in this article constitute relatively common advice given to patients, and since every patient is different, you are advised to consult your physician, if in doubt, before acting upon this information. Lupin Limited has only facilitated the distribution of this information to you in the interest of patient education and welfare.


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