Fighting Fit: How to get back to exercise after illness

Fighting Fit: How to get back to exercise after illness

When is the right time to get a sweat on after getting over an illness?

By John Balfe - 29 Sep 2020

Given that we remain in the midst of a global pandemic, it is only natural that this will impact the way that we work out.

Gym memberships and attendance have suffered amid the various restrictions imposed on society as we continue to attempt to curb the spread of the potentially deadly Covid-19. Luckily, there exists all manner of activities you can do outside of the gym environment, and while maintaining social distancing such as running, but how do you know when to get back to your fitness regime when you have recovered from coronavirus, to use one example?

In the case of Covid-19, we still don’t have a firm grasp of the potential long-term impacts so it is best to slowly but surely ramp up your exercise once you have recovered, rather than attempting too much too soon.


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First, and most importantly, you must wait until you have FULLY recovered from your illness — and in the case of Covid, you should wait a full 14 days AFTER your symptoms have disappeared. You can, of course, embark on smaller types of exercise but refrain from attempting to run your 5K for the time being until you are absolutely confident that you are healthy.

Furthermore, if you were hospitalised with an illness you MUST consult with a doctor before returning to the gym. Again, in the case of Covid, most people who were asymptomatic or only experienced mild symptoms should be able to resume exercise without consulting a physician.

How hard should I go?

A general rule would be to resume your activities at around 50% of your regular pace and increase by around 10% each week thereafter. The same rules apply to people who were ill but not suffering from Covid. After a period of time, you should be able to return to your regular workout regimen and will have slowly built yourself up to that point in preparation.

It is also important to note that if you feel any negative impact from returning to exercise (chest pain, feeling like you may faint etc.) then you must consult with your doctor immediately.

Furthermore, if you suspect that you are suffering from any Covid-like symptoms it is of the utmost importance to isolate yourself and to set up a coronavirus test with your GP.

And, of course, maintain social distancing while you’re out, wash your hands — but don’t let the current situation act as a convenient excuse to completely disregard your workout goals.