Littleton, CO

Workouts after illness- is there an ideal time?

Workouts after illness- is there an ideal time?


Getting sick sucks.  I am not a good patient when I catch any sort of illness, especially ones that drag on for days and days.  Wisdom I have heard about exercise after illness is that it usually takes twice as long as you were sick to fully recover.  I can’t remember where that came from, but it is wise because you should slowly progress your workouts after being ill so you don’t get injured.


If I had a choice, I like the 24 hour flu.  It shows up, knocks you on your bum, ‘cleans out’ your system in one direction or the other, burns up the bug and moves out.  Even with my kids, I let fevers burn and do their job of annihilating the germs.  All you have to do is hang in there through a couple hours of aches, pains and nausea.  24 hours, 36 tops and then you’re back at saving the world.

It’s the head colds that really chap my hide.   You feel them coming too, the slight nasal congestion and sleepy, heavy eyes.  They are not sneaky, but we all live in denial while we feel it coming.  In my denial I made sure to get to sleep early, drink a ton of water and eat right but to no avail.  I even tried my go-to intestinal distress trick of a shot of good tequila on an empty stomach which of course didn’t work because it was a head problem and not an intestinal problem, but I was in denial so I did.

This first head cold of the year sidelined me in bed for 2 days (luckily one was a Saturday) and I’ve been half ass for 10 days.  10 days of somewhat functional is so frustrating!  I bet I could’ve bounced back sooner with some quality sleep (THE best medicine in my book) but we all know what happens to our sleep with a head cold!  Sleeping becomes a constant log roll from side to side while one side of your brain clogs up and your eyeball nearly pops out forcing you to roll over to have the cycle repeat itself…ugh.  I tried sleeping sitting up which helps prevent the eternal log roll but I’m really not a fan of stabbing neck and back pain.  All of this makes mornings totally suck, but once you become upright an moving, the congestion also moves and you become somewhat functional.

Somewhat functional turns into sporadically healthy and I begin to wonder if I should go workout.  My rule for workouts and illness (that don’t show a fever) is that you should try something.  If after 10 minutes you feel exhausted and worse, stop immediately and go to bed.  If you still have a decent energy level, then keep it short and work to add on each day.  At the tail end of a chest cold I actually think that a decent cardio or anaerobic workout helps me clear my lungs down deep.

In summary, I completely acknowledge that it took me four paragraphs of complaining to get to my point which is: Regular exercise helps our immune systems stay vibrant and strong.  Getting back to exercise after illness is important, but it is different for everyone.

I am truly grateful each day that my family and I only have to deal with illness once or twice a year.  My heart goes out to anyone fighting the more wicked illnesses, but no matter what, it’s good to give a workout a try because you never know when it might be helpful…for body or mind.   Stay healthy my friends!