4 Tips for Returning to Exercise after being Sick

4 Tips for Returning to Exercise after Being Sick

Getting sick is a part of life, no matter how hard we might try to avoid it.  It not only disrupts our work and family time, but it also may halt our exercise routine. I recently went through this experience when I came down with a serious infection that had me unable to leave the bed for nearly a week. I could barely stand upright so working out was not even an option. Now that the worst is over, it’s time to get back to working out.  But how? Today I’m sharing with you 4 tips for easing back into exercise after being sick when you may still not be 100%.

Tip 1: Isometrics

After lying in bed for almost a week, my body hurt all over just from not moving. The inactivity was almost worse than the illness! After doing so little with my muscles (other than coughing) I knew I had to get my muscles working again, but gently. One of the safest ways to wake up your muscles after an illness is by starting with isometric exercises.   Isometric exercises are done with your body completely still so you are not moving through large ranges of motion, can be done with almost every muscle in the body, and can be performed anywhere. Try moving your body into various positions and then just squeezing your muscles for 30 seconds. I simply lied down on the floor or sat in a chair and began to squeeze each of my muscles for 30 seconds concentrating on muscles in my legs, trunk, and upper body. Start with just a few minutes of isometric exercises once a day and see if you can build to twice a day. Your muscles will thank you for using them!

Tip 2: 50% Rule

When you’re ready to start back to the gym, it’s important to ease back into workout out so that you don’t overdo it. A good rule of thumb is the 50% rule. Whatever weights, sets, and reps you were doing prior to getting sick; cut it in half.  For example, if you usually perform 2 sets of pull downs at 140 pounds, when you return from being sick, cut it back to 1 set of pull downs with 70 pounds.  If you usually run for 30 minutes on the treadmill, after being sick, start back with 15 minutes of walking and running intervals. Feels easy? That’s the point! Your body has just been through a battle on the inside. Don’t add more stress by over exercising.

Tip 3: Ease Back In

As mentioned above, your body has just been through a battle. It’s important to respect what your body’s just been through and ease back into exercise. In addition to the 50% rule while at the gym, your body may require more rest days between workouts. If you usually work out every other day, you may need two rest days between workouts. And that’s okay! Remember that you have your entire life to workout.  It’s not worth forcing your body back into the gym and risking the chance of getting sick again thus requiring even more time away from exercising.  Build back slowly so your body can continue to heal.  It may take a few weeks to get back to your normal routine.

Tip 4: Listen to your body and make changes accordingly

As I began easing back into my workouts following the 50% rule and adding extra rest days, I noticed I was having problems performing several of my usual trunk exercises. My abdominal muscles would suddenly cramp and become painful.  During my illness, my abdominal muscles were getting a constant workout from a ton of coughing. I knew something wasn’t right so I listened to my body and sought out a professional for a Muscle Activation Technique® session. Turns out all the coughing did a number on my abs! As you begin to ease back into your exercise routine, listen and observe how your body is feeling. If you find yourself exhausted or achy, take that extra rest day or cut back a bit on your exercise. Don’t be afraid to adjust your training schedule or seek out a professional to help you. A personal trainer can give you guidance on how much is appropriate and a MAT Specialist® can get your muscles tuned up so you can get back to exercising.