If you are suffering with a chronic condition but still want to keep fit and feel better or are coming out the other side of an illness, then you may not necessarily feel like hitting a workout. However, with the right approach, including medical advice, you may find that exercise can be a valuable tool in your rehabilitation. With the right training program you can exercise to energize for recovery!
How you exercise and the impact it has on your physical state depends on the individual illness you have been dealing with, and possibly still are. While you might think working out is only for those who feel at their physical best, the fact is that keeping active is necessary for health and well-being.
How exercise can help you recover after illness
When you exercise you are using energy but at the same time you are telling your body that you need energy. As a result, your body responds by energizing. In turn this can help combat fatigue. Getting over tiredness and moving out of a post-illness slump can help speed up the recovery process.
Exercise can also help control ongoing symptoms of certain illnesses such as diabetes by giving the body a healthy boost to keep ailments in check. Alongside this, stretching and moving the body can help ease pain that results from inactivity and illness with feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters.
An important aspect of recovery that can't be overlooked is also the psychological benefits of keeping active. Exercise not only supplements your energy levels but gives your motivation to get better a good boost too. Being able to get back to certain activities can have a positive psychological impact.
How to ease yourself back into exercise
Once you have the go-ahead from medical professionals to exercise, it's simply a case of getting back into an active life. To do this you need to have the right practical approach.
- Plan new goals and a new strategy: Get a plan in place to get back to health by setting new targets and finding safe and effective ways to achieve your new aims.
- Take small steps not giant leaps: It's easy during any recovery to try and make up lost time and push yourself to get back to where you think you should be. However, burnout or overdoing it might hinder rather than help your recovery.
- Listen to your body: As well as sticking to medical advice make a connection with yourself and don't ignore physical signs that warn if you're not exercising in the right way. Make a conscious effort to become aware of how you are responding to activity and how you ultimately feel.
- Use common sense: You'll get ahead more easily and promote recovery more effectively if you apply some logic and be sensible. You have nothing to prove so be kind and nurture a more compassionate road to recovery.
- Don't expect to start where you left off: Some illnesses can stop you in your tracks, while others can knock you off your feet. It's natural that you are going to find yourself in a different position, performance-wise and fitness-wise, so try to go with this new situation rather than fight it with your body and your mind.
- Don't put pressure on yourself: Recovery can be speedy and sometimes it can take time, perhaps longer than you imagined. Adding stress through trying too hard or pushing yourself beyond what you should be is not going to do you any favors in the short- or the long-term.
- Take out the intensity: Think of your exercise recovery plan as a progression where you build up your strength and your activity levels. With this in mind, try exercises which are not overly intense or high-impact. You can methodically up the speed, reps and intensity as time goes on and your physical state improves.
Next month we'll look at how exercise can not only help recovery but can also play a role in preventing illness too.