So you’ve been in bed for a week with the flu or nursing a torn muscle and now you think you’re ready to get back into exercise? Before you do, make sure you read on to find out how to ease back into the game!
When am I ready to start training again?
Often people who have had an extended break from exercise find the first couple of sessions so hard that they give up. So it’s really important you’re physically and mentally ready when you do decide to start training again.
Let’s say you’ve had a cold that turned into a chest infection. It’s important that you let your body focus on fighting the illness before trying to get back into it. A good indication is to take your resting heart rate. If it’s still more than 10% higher than normal. give yourself a couple more days off.
Remember, exercise whilst hugely beneficial actually stresses your body; that’s why we do it! It depletes our glucose and fat stores and requires lots of oxygen and water as replenishment. The problem is, that all of these factors are also involved in fighting illness.
Be guided by how your body reacts and start slowly. A good rule of thumb is to wait seven days after all symptoms disappear before you go back to full intensity training, but don’t be upset if you’ve lost some of your fitness, it will come back!
Can I train while I'm sick?
This depends on where the illness is and what type of illness it is. If all of your symptoms are above the neck (e.g. a runny nose and a bit of a sore throat), then it can be beneficial to do some light exercise in a warm environment. Gentle treadmill walking or flexibility exercises will increase your cardiovascular response and help boost your immune system. It will also make it easier to get back into your exercise habits once the illness has broken.
However, if your symptoms are below the neck (e.g. muscular aches and pains, chest congestion or a high temperature) then you need to rest. Any of these symptoms indicate a systemic illness – an illness that affects the whole body, which needs all of your energy diverted to beating the bug. Grab your doona, hit the couch and binge watch a TV series.
In the end, we all know when we’re really on the mend or just pushing ourselves. If you know you’re ready, we recommend you bite the bullet and just get back out there! The first couple of sessions will be uncomfortable, but the more you commit the easier it will get.