Working Out After Being Sick

Posted by Ilya Parker on

I’ve been away for a bit recovering from Covid. As someone who is immunocompromised these have been scary times managing symptoms as this virus moves through my body. I also needed space to process my anger. After spending much of my days in isolation I ultimately contracted Covid in my home from a loved one. However, I understand how hard it is when mitigations are left up to us as individuals.
Thankfully I am in a place where I am starting to feel better and am able to engage in intentional movement again. So I wanted to share some tips for folks to ease back into working out after being sick. 
The following tips are not medical advice. I strongly encourage you to consult with a medical professional with any questions or concerns you may have about your unique condition before you engage in physical movement. 
1. Check in With Your Body Consistently: to gauge if you are truly ready for additional movement. Assess if you are in a place to handle a gym session on top of the energy expenditure required for your daily activities like: hygiene, meal prep, cleaning, 9-5 duties etc. Due to embedded ableist societal beliefs and capitalistic demands many of us downplay how sick we are without having adequate time for our bodies to recover. This carries over to fitness and folks end up pushing their bodies too hard too soon. Don’t force things. Use this time to assess your body’s actual need for rest and nourishment then move accordingly.
2. Start With Light Activity and Be Mindful of Your Heart Rate: I’ve been engaging in light aerobic activity 1- 3 days a week while monitoring my heart rate and oxygen saturation using a pulse oximeter. My goal is to train in a range that is 60% of my max heart rate. Here is a Resource to calculate your max heart rate and the range you’d like to train in. I also am checking my oxygen saturation levels to make sure I am getting good oxygenated air in as I move. 
3. Try A Slow Progression Back into Weightlifting: It’s such a beautiful experience when you start feeling back to yourself again after a sickness. Your appetite is back, you feel stronger and you’ll probably want to get back into weightlifting full force. However, you may still need to let your body systems (including your muscular and central nervous systems) recover. Which is why I am not immediately picking weight training back up and when I do I will not be doing any max effort lifts . I also plan to decrease some of my training volume by doing less sets and reps during each session. Give your body the space that it needs to help reduce the chance of having any major setbacks and to help prevent injuries. Take your time and enjoy the slow progression.
Remember divesting from toxic fitness culture is a commitment to doing what we can to minimize those external voices that encourage us to push our bodies beyond its limits. Engaging in intentional movement with the foundation of compassion for your body is an act of resistance against oppressive forces that attempt to keep us disconnected from seeking what our bodies truly need. You got this.

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