Getting Back to the Gym After Being Sick

Muscular young woman doing pull-ups on rings
A woman is training in a gym. (Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images)

The symptoms of any illness generally keep you out of the gym as long as the illness lasts. Once your symptoms begin to fade, your thoughts may turn back to the gym. The exercise may help you regain your strength as you recover from the illness. Listen to your body to determine when to resume gym workouts and how intensely to work out.

Illnesses

The type of illness you have plays a role in when you can get back to the gym. If you have a contagious illness, stay away from the gym until any risk of transmitting your germs has passed. A viral infection is likely to leave you with weakness in your muscles, making your usual workout more difficult to complete. In general, exercise is still possible if you only have a minor cold, as long as you are fever-free and aren't coughing much.

When to Go Back

The specific symptoms you experience with the illness affect when you can return to the gym. Always wait until a fever is gone to return to exercise. Wait for other significant symptoms to pass, including vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, severe coughing, general aches or chills. For the best results, wait until you begin to feel an increase in your energy and muscle strength so you are able to complete a workout. Consult with your health care provider if you are unsure if it is safe to return to the gym.

First Workout

Your first trip back to the gym is the test of your body's strength after the illness takes its toll. Plan for a shorter workout with lower intensity than you did before you got sick. A slower pace is less likely to make you feel worse or cause your symptoms to reappear. If you feel dizziness, nausea or pains, end the workout early or slow down even more. Take the next day off from the gym to give your body more recovery time.

Tips

If your trips to the gym involve intense training activities, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends giving yourself at least two weeks to get back to full intensity. Increase your intensity slowly with each workout, paying close attention to your body for signs that you are working yourself too hard. If you are recovering from a major illness, your strength may vary from day to day. One trip to the gym may allow for an intense workout while the next day you feel that you can't complete an easy workout. Adjust your training schedule to accommodate how your body feels each day.

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