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How to Exercise After Illness

written by: Cheryl Gabbert • edited by: DaniellaNicole • updated: 1/30/2010

Exercising after an illness isn't easy. You may feel like you've lost a lot of ground after having been sick for a long period of time. Whether you've been down with the flu for a couple of weeks, or have been out of commission for a while, you can do it. Here's how to exercise after illness.

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    Getting Motivated after an Illness

    Having a hard time getting back into the fitness groove after being sick for awhile? Maybe you have no idea how to exercise after illness has struck. It can be hard to get back on track, but that doesn't mean you can't do it. You just need a little motivation to get yourself in gear. Don't expect to be a the same level you were before the illness. Give yourself a break! It's ok if you have to backtrack a little in the beginning. Motivation comes from finally deciding that making small steps to get back to where you were are more desirable than sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. It may take you awhile to reach that point, but when you do, you'll find that you have all the motivation you need.

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    Get the Go-Ahead from your Doctor

    Although it may not be fun, the first step to getting in shape after an illness should be to make a doctor's appointment. Let your doctor know that you'd like to start an exercise program. Ask if you're healthy enough to get started. Your doctor may give you some tips and considerations specific to the illness you're recovering from, so take notes during your appointment. Once you've gotten the ok from your doctor, you can get started.

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    Getting Started

    Your first few workouts after an illness can be pretty tough. Before you start, accept that you'll be on a different level. Don't expect to be where you were before. Give yourself permission to take it slow and easy, especially for the first few weeks. Exercise as a lifestyle means that over time there will be setbacks, but these little blocks in the road don't have to mean you can't continue to meet your fitness goals and become healthier. Understanding that illnesses come and go, but you'll always pick up where you left off and work your way back. This kind of attitude is necessary if you want to be fit for life. Otherwise, you'll quit altogether when the going gets rough.

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    Working your Way Back

    After the first few weeks, you should notice that your body is beginning to adapt to regular exercise once again. At this point, go ahead and start to push yourself a little. Still, listen to your body, and be willing to back off when necessary. Slow and steady is how to exercise after illness the smart way. A walking program is a great exercise to start with, since it's easy to do, and very beneficial for your body. Start walking 3 days a week for as long as you can, with the goal being at least 30 minutes, 5 or 6 times a week. Slowly increase your speed and distance as tolerated, as well as the number of days you work out each week.

    It may take a couple of months for your body to get back to your former fitness level after an illness. Don't get discouraged if you don't see results as quickly as you'd like. Just keep at it, knowing that soon your efforts will pay off, and you'll be in even better shape than you were before you got sick in the first place.

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    Resources

    1. Intellihealth: http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/7165/8464/724807.html

    2. University of Manitoba Wellness Ezine: http://umanitoba.greenmaplewellness.net/new/articles/article.html?artid=1238

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