I recently got sick. Not the three-day kind that just temporarily knocks you off because you haven’t been getting enough sleep. It was the kind that really steers you off and getting back is not as simple. I had an infection that kept recurring for two weeks, I was brought to the ER twice, and I had to rest A LOT.
Those who know me are well aware that I love to exercise. Being sick meant zero exercise to allow my body to fully recuperate. While I knew this was absolutely necessary for my overall health, I also knew that this meant I’d have to start all over once I resume my many fitness activities.
The first day back is always very difficult. It’s frustrating and it’s very tempting to just wing it and just continue what you were doing. Stop right there! I would not recommend doing this. You don’t want to just pick up where you left off. You might just hurt yourself or get sick again. Instead, you want to be sure that the choices you make on day one are going to help you regain the fitness level you were in prior to the illness (not the other way around). So, based on my experience, here are a few tips for your first workout after getting sick.
1. Listen to your body
If you’re still feeling weak, it’s probably best to go home and try again tomorrow. I’ve had my fair share of stubbornness with this first step and I just ended up getting dizzy (close to fainting). That incident taught me to listen to my body. Signs such as fatigue are clear clues that the body is telling you it needs more time to regain its strength. To ignore this is to subject yourself to serious consequences.
2. Lessen the intensity
If you’re used to running five kilometers, this time, lessen it to three. If you’re used to lifting heavy weights, lessen the load or the number of repetitions. From experience, easing my body slowly back into what I used to do is more beneficial in the long run because it is able to pace itself better and regain strength gradually. This way, you avoid injuries, too.
Your body will be working more than it had been while you were sick. Make sure you are able to hydrate properly to aide all your muscles with the amount of work you’ll subject them to after a long period of stagnation. Dehydration is the last thing you want at this point, trust me.
4. Stretch thoroughly
After your workout, don’t forget to stretch. Let your muscles relax again. This helps minimize the tension after a tough workout and allows the muscles to regain elasticity. For me, this also helps lessen the pain that comes the morning after.
5. Get the right post-wokrout nutirion
Eat! Your body needs to nourish itself again after the work you put it through. Opt for the healthier options, not the nearest fast food chain around the corner. You want to give your body the proper nutrients to get back into shape.
Your first workout will really not be up to par. But it’s okay. Take it easy. Be good to your body! You’ll get there. It will take some time, but you will.