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An extended illness can interfere with your fitness routine, making exercise impossible and depleting your strength. After weeks or months of illness, you should start slowly when returning to your fitness routine. Plan on gradually rebuilding your fitness, and be prepared for setbacks.
Consult your doctor. How long a return to exercise will take and how much exercise is safe will vary greatly with your illness. Muscular and bone injuries may require that you take it slow for several months, while an infection or virus may just mean you're a bit weaker than usual. Cardiac problems, however, may require that you remain cautious while exercising. Your doctor might administer a stress test, ask you to monitor your heart rate while exercising or make other recommendations to ensure that you are able to exercise safely.
Eat a healthy diet. If you were trying to lose weight before getting sick, you may be tempted to begin cutting calories again. But slashing your caloric intake can weaken your immune system and lengthen your recovery time, so avoid dieting until your doctor gives you permission to do so. Instead, focus on eating six to nine servings of fruits and vegetables and lean proteins such as fish and nuts. Drink plenty of water. Eliminate excess calories and still have a healthy diet by avoiding sugary drinks and unhealthy snacks such as potato chips.
Begin stretching a few days before you plan to return to exercise. Stretching will increase blood flow to your muscles and alert you to any potential problems such as aches and pains in certain joints. Continue stretching as you regain your strength.
Return to a modified version of your exercise routine. Start with just five to 10 minutes each day at low intensity. If you are a runner, try walking or jogging. Add a few minutes of exercise each day to your routine until you have fully returned to your previous workout.
- You should do both cardiovascular exercise such as walking, jumping rope and jogging, and strength training such as weightlifting.