So, you’ve finally overcome the symptoms of the illness that’s kept you from hitting the gym – time for a massive session, right? Whoa! Hold on – it depends on what you’ve had! A cold? The flu? Each illness has a recovery timeframe and going back too soon could cause you more harm.
When you can go back to gym… safely
Even after you’ve finished the course of medication you were prescribed, it’s best to go and see your doctor for a follow-up consultation. You need to make sure the significant symptoms have gone.
“What are significant symptoms, you ask?” Well, if you’ve had the flu, you need to make sure your temperature is back within its normal range. If you’re still experiencing stomach cramps or constant coughing, it’s best to wait a bit longer before going back. If your doc gives you the green light, you can start working out again.
Your post-illness workout programme
Once again, this depends on the illness you’ve had, your fitness level, as well as the training programme you follow.
High Intensity Training: This is a great way to burn calories in a short amount of time, but it’s going to increase your heart rate very quickly; your ability to breathe deeply at specific times is also essential to complete the exercises.
If this is the type of programme you follow, you should wait a bit longer until you’re able to breathe deeply without coughing.
Moderate exercising: Experts have found that moderate training can boost your immune system, which is exactly what your body needs when recovering from an illness. It’s been found that intensive sessions can actually do the opposite to your immune system.
Catherine Viljoen, a biokineticist working for Virgin Active South Africa explains: “if you do a really strenuous bout of exercise, the immune system can take a knock especially during the first 3 – 24 hours after exercise.”
The best ways to moderate your training
- Lift lighter weights. We know you want to get your gains back, but you need to give it a bit of time. Your muscles need a few sessions to get used to the movements again as well as the pressure that the weights put on them. If you lift too heavy, you’re risking injury which could put out for months
- Lower cardio intensity. Respiratory infections such as colds and flu take a toll on your breathing and you need to be able to take deep breaths during cardio sessions to get as much oxygen in your body as possible. It’s best to lower the intensity and let your body
- Shorten your workout. You need to listen to your body; at this point, it be able to take on an intense 2-hour workout. Training for too long could actually bring back your symptoms.
Focus on your nutrition
You probably haven’t been eating your regular meals as well as been sleeping for most of the days that you’ve been sick. This means that you haven’t been taking in the correct amount of nutrients your body needs – and your metabolism would have slowed down – so stay away from junk food!
You need to eat a balanced diet containing protein, carbohydrates, fats, veggies.
You also need to eat foods that are high in antioxidants, especially vitamin C. Add some of the following foods to your meals.
- Sweet potato
- Fish – high in Omega-3 fatty acids
These foods contain essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids needed to fight off the symptoms from your illness.
So, please take it easy and give your body time to recover – you don’t want to risk being injured and unable to train for a longer period of time.