Getting sick sucks and it sucks even more when your illness gets in the way of the gym. Have you ever tried to come back to the gym after an illness? I bet your cardio was terrible, you were likely not as strong, and of course didn’t feel right.
Well, there is a right way to get back into it and without sugar coating it, you need to progress slowly! Especially if you had the flu, cold, or respiratory illness. If you caught one of these infections there are a few things to note.
First, your body is using energy for its immune system. Even after we are “feeling better” from our sickness we are still not totally recovered! It can take a week, two, three, or more to fully recover and if you try to do any high intensity workouts you will likely not feel your best as your body is still trying to make sure the infection doesn’t come back!
Secondly, the infection has already done its damage. After getting sick, the infection has already multiplied and spread chemical signals, toxins, and damaged some normal healthy cells. As a result, it will take some time for the body to recoup and you need to allow for that time. The body has already sustained some damage and expecting it to work at 100% is not realistic. If you do go back too much too hard, you can risk weakening your immune system enough that there is a possibility for re-infection. Keep in mind after exercise your immune system does temporarily lower!
What to do instead?
When recovering from sickness I still stay active BUT you have to make sure you don’t lift too much too hard or start cardio work too soon! Give your body a chance to recover and do very light weight workouts. High rep and/or moderate weight is good. This give a slight increase in heart rate but it is not too much so it will not overwhelm the body. In addition, you will be circulating blood and lymph flow which is important for the body to heal systemically. Try to keep the intense cardio at a minimum, do some lifting. Workout times should be a shorter duration as well and I recommend about 20-35 min if you are used to doing bout 45-1 hour.