Exercising Through Illness

We all know that exercise is good for us. It helps us to maintain a healthy weight and build muscle. It lowers the build-up of fat around our vital organs and keeps them working at their best. It supports our immune system and boosts our circulation. Exercising can have a massively positive effect on your mental health and give you a brighter outlook and increased confidence. Most of us are also aware that a little exercise when we’re ill can be a good thing. Fresh air, a vitamin D boost, and raised adrenaline levels can all help you to feel better, and maintaining your fitness levels through your illness can help you to get better faster.

While you should still be able to exercise unless you are severely unwell, it’s vital that if you are ill, you take it easy and don’t overdo it. Here are some tips to help you.

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Understand Your Illness

There’s a vast difference between exercising when you’ve got a bit of a cold, and exercising with a more severe and long term condition. Understand what is wrong with you and how it affects your body. If you need to, speak to your doctor for advice on exercising with colostomy bags or which exercises you should avoid with your condition. Learn as much as you can about your illness, its symptoms and long term effects, and you’ll be much better equipped to keep yourself safe.

Start Slowly

Even if you’ve just got a mild cold, you might not want to rush out of the door and straight into a 10k run at pace. Start slowly, warm up thoroughly and take your time. Your energy levels vary throughout the illness, and your muscles may take a lot longer to warm up. If you are at the gym, walk for a few minutes on the treadmill before trying anything more strenuous.

Listen to Your Body

When you are ill, whatever is wrong, it’s more important than ever that you listen to your body. Take a day off if you have an upset stomach, as you’ll dehydrate much faster. Stay in bed if your energy levels are very low. If you do feel ok to exercise, pay attention to how you are feeling throughout. If your body wants to take it easy, just go for a brisk walk. When it wants to stop, let it. If you exercise regularly, you’ll know what feels right and what doesn’t, you just need to learn to trust your body.

Keep Hydrated

When you are ill, your body needs more. You’ll need to make sure you eat an energy-boosting snack before you start to exercise, and you’ll be at higher risk of dehydration, so it’s important that you keep sipping on water throughout your exercise and that you have a big drink when you finish.

Give Yourself Longer Rest Times

It’s always a good idea to give yourself a day off between hard exercise sessions. Even when you are healthy, this recovery time is essential. When you are ill, it may take your body longer to recover, and so you might want to limit your workouts to twice a week.

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