Pneumonia was not in my plans this year but I got it and wished I could give it away. The first week was fever, chills, body ache, headache, coughing, weakness and fatigue. I could not get out of bed. I began to function barely in week two and by week three, some energy started to return. Needless to say, I missed three weeks of exercise. Quite frustrating because I was in good running groove increasing distances and feeling well.
Now, I was at zero miles running. Starting over. Again. Humbling. This “starting over” event occurs often throughout our lives in varying forms. Many clients experience this phenomena frequently. Exercise programs start and stop, start and stop. Life gets in the way of taking care of ourselves. Travel, work, family, caring for loved ones, a move. It is important to note how stress exhibits itself in physical ailments. When returning to your exercise program after an illness or absence, ease into it.
Try restorative Yoga for short sessions. The breathing techniques are very beneficial.
For week one, exercise for half the duration that you normally exercised. Increase duration by 10% each week depending on how you feel. For runners, start with the walk/jog pattern for the first two weeks. Cyclists and swimmers should keep the workout heart rate at 50-60% of maximum heart- a submax workout.
Use half the weights and decrease the repetitions for resistive work. Make the first 4-6 workouts easy. Try 20 minute sessions the first week and add ten minutes for resistive exercise the second week.
When you return to exercise classes, do not feel pressured to perform at your previous level for two to three weeks. Keep the first 4-6 classes shorter with less intensity until you feel 100%.
Another key factor to returning to exercise after illness is adequate rest. Caffeine stimulants may help you press through the day but that often affects your sleep cycle. A good night’s sleep helps the body heal and recover. And you may be returning to work and have family responsibilities, which combined with exercise, drains your physical energy. There may be many interruptions throughout your lives, just return again to your workout- it all helps!