Recover Your Workout! A Trainer’s No-Brainer After Illness Advice

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I got a summer cold this week and ended up in bed for several days, save shuttling kids around. It was slightly sucky, but not a big deal.

When I get sick I miss many things: feeling good, social events, my house being picked up, wine, etc. And I miss the gym, working out and moving my body.

Some people, with coughs and colds, still go to the gym, shopping and out to lunch. As far as I know moderate level exercise will not slow your recovery time. However, as a gym rat, there’s nothing worse to me than being at the gym, on a treadmill or elliptical, while the guy next to me is hacking and coughing up God-knows-what. (Well, the one time I saw a man conducting an under-short “scratch and adjust and, oh yes, sniff” prior to sitting on the fly machine, that is probably the worse I’ve seen [at the gym]…Ah, but I used to serve cocktails in Las Vegas!)

So here’s my seemingly no-brainer advice: When you get sick, please spare the rest of us, stay home and get better. And after you recover, ease back into your fitness routine, a.k.a., recover your workout.

When you’ve been out of the gym or not working out (for whatever reason), return to your workouts slowly to prevent injury or recurrence of illness. This is particularly important if you’re under a lot of stress, have chronic conditions or you’re no longer in your 20’s. Try splitting what you would normally do into 1/3, using lighter weights or shortening the duration. Incrementally build to your norm over a week or two.


For example, yesterday I did 3-4 sets of dumbbell presses and rows, prone flys, lateral raises and some physical therapy. I used lighter weights, only trained for 1/2 hr or so. I felt I could do more, but I didn’t. Today I will do a very light lower body exercise and tomorrow a light cardio workout.

Keep in mind you want your mind-spirit RV (your body) to last a long, long time. You want it to be strong which means at times you need to be gentle. What’s a week or 2 to reinstate your fitness level? Better that than prolonged illness, an injury or the brunette on the treadmill next to you punching you in your stuffed-up nose.

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On August 2, 2014
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