We are all bound to get sick from time to time, and your efforts toward staying fit even when you’re ill can go out the window.
This isn’t such a huge deal when the illness is short-term, but for a chronic illness that is ongoing, it’s of utmost importance to prioritize fitness while keeping in mind the limitations imposed by any particular medical condition.
Most importantly, staying fit is about more than just exercise. Always be sure to tend to the whole person, and always be mindful of working out in public places when contagious.
Staying Fit When Sick
Here are 5 most important tips to keep in mind when your goal is to staying fit even if you’re ill:
1. What To Do During Short-Term Illnesses
As a general rule of thumb, it’s considered okay to exercise when symptoms are above the neck. If you have a cold and are experiencing a sore throat or runny nose, go ahead and stick with your regular exercise regimen.
On the other hand, when symptoms are occurring below the neck, it’s best to give your body the chance to rest and recover. In this case, a cold with a body-wracking cough is a signal to take it easy.
The same goes for flu symptoms such as fever and body aches. In such instances, rest truly is the best medicine.
A normal fitness routine can be resumed a week or two later without much negative impact.
In other instances, surgery may have been performed or a bone may have been broken. If that is the case, it’s important to not put any strain on the area of the body that needs to heal.
It’s best to discuss alternative modes of exercise with a physician and to always listen to your body.
2. What To Do During Long-Term Illnesses
Fatigue is often the primary symptom that comes with numerous chronic illnesses. It can be extremely difficult to find the motivation to remain active when all your body wants to do is take a nap.
While it may seem counterintuitive, moving more is often the best antidote to crushing fatigue.
Efforts like drinking more water and avoiding blue light from smartphones are some of the numerous options that can help alleviate fatigue.
In the case of autoimmune diseases like hemolytic anemia as visualized in this diagram from XpertDox, it may be necessary to choose forms of exercise that are much different than what you were used to in the past. Low impact exercises are less likely to trigger inflammatory responses.
Your doctor as well as a personal trainer can serve as helpful sounding boards for a variety of new fitness activities.
3. Maintaining Motivation
It can be hard to stay motivated on one’s one. Consider asking a friend to be your exercise buddy. If that isn’t a possibility, join a gym or look for MeetUp groups related to exercise.
Don’t be too hard on yourself on the days you don’t meet your goals. Instead, focus on the days that are successes and know that each day is a new chance to get things right.
If you are extrinsically motivated, consider setting up a goal and reward system for yourself. Of course, these should be healthy goals, not caloric indulgences.
It can also prove beneficial to share your progress publicly, with your loved ones, or on social media. Accountability often makes a huge difference in the drive to stick with a fitness program.
4. Taking Time For Self-Care
As much as we live in a 24/7 world, we do not have 24/7 bodies. Focus on getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
If it’s hard for you to wind down when hitting the sheets, consider incorporating a bedtime routine such as drinking herbal tea or soaking in a hot bath. Do things you find relaxing, such as reading a book or getting an occasional massage.
Well-being and productivity tends to surge when we are well-rested, relaxed, and engaged in hobbies we love.
Never underestimate the power of going for a walk or exploring the possibilities of meditation. You are the one person you have to spend the most time with, so take the time to get to know that person and what makes them tick.
5. Exploring Alternatives To Exercise
While it’s best to work up a sweat doing physical activity for at least thirty minutes a day, five days a week, there is a lot to be said for fitting in smaller bursts of exercise related to daily activities.
Playing catch with your children counts, as does walking the dog. Kids can make great jogging companions if they can ride bikes ahead of their parent, and they will also see you as a fitness role model.
Couples without children can also pick activities to engage in together.
If you sit a lot, consider trying out a standing desk or working at a breakfast bar.
Couple TV watching with walking or jogging on a treadmill.
Yoga stretches can be fit into commercial breaks.
Dance to your favorite music. Get moving!
An illness might be cramping your style, but styles can always be reinvented. There is never an excuse to give up on staying fit because the options available are practically unlimited.
What efforts have you gone to when it comes to staying fit even when you’re ill? Let us know on the comment section below.
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