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27 Feb 2004

Exercise after flu
Hi

About 2 weeks agao, I had a really bad dous of flu, I still feel pretty weak. When do you suggest is a good idea to get bad to some hard training?

Thanks
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Expert
FitnessDoc
fitnessdoc

01 Jan 0001

Hi Henry

If you have still above the neck signs, such as a runny nose, sneezing, or a sore throat, moderate exercise is generally safe as long as you do not have a fever. You can resume intense workouts as soon as symptoms disappear. If you have below the neck signs, such as extreme tiredness, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, swollen lymph glands, or a hacking cough (common to bronchitis), allow at least two weeks before returning to intense training.

It's really important that you do not exercise with a fever. Exercising under these conditions increases risk of dehydration, heatstroke, and even heart failure. You know you have a fever if you have alternating spells of hot and cold, and sore tender muscles. This is what I referred to as 'below the neck symptoms' earlier.

If you have cold or flu symptoms, you cannot power away your ailment through more intense workouts. In fact, you may make your illness worse. A simple sore throat, for example, could indicate an infection, and your immunity to fight it will be reduced if you continue vigorous exercise. Moderate exercise, however, is fine for mild cold symptoms (sinus etc included) as long your heart rate and body temperature do not increase excessively.
Then, once you do start training again, be alert to air-quality conditions at your training facility. During cold and flu seasons, exercise during less-crowded hours to avoid catching or transmitting viruses. Consider outdoor activities if weather conditions permit.

Making up for time missed in the gym can drain your immune system all over again. Considering your ilness was two weeks ago, it's likely that you are in a recovery phase right now, where exercise is possible, although may be slightly uncomfortable and difficult, considering two weeks of training is gone. So, you have to be sensible. One, you should not expect to start where you left off - rather look back at your training and think realistically of returning to where you were about a week before illness, and then working your way back over about a two week period. Secondly, if you are planning any races, or competitions, rethink their importance, because you have more to lose than you possibly could gain.

Good luck
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