How to Start Exercising Again After Being Sick

Written By Robbie Peters

11 Aug, 2023

Reclaiming Your Fitness Journey with Confidence and Care


Getting sick can be a major setback in our fitness journeys. Whether it was a common cold, flu, or a more serious illness, the road to recovery can feel daunting. However, with the right approach, you can safely and effectively start exercising again after being sick. In this blog post, we will explore the best strategies and tips to help you get back on track with your fitness goals. From understanding your body’s needs to gradually increasing intensity, we’ll cover everything you need to know.

1. Listen to Your Body

When recovering from an illness, it’s essential to listen to your body’s signals and adjust your exercise routine accordingly. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start slowly: Begin with low-intensity activities such as walking or stretching. This allows your body to gradually adapt to physical exertion again.
  • Pay Attention to Fatigue: If you feel exhausted or experience prolonged fatigue during or after exercising, it’s a sign that your body is not fully recovered. Take it as a cue to rest and give yourself more time.
  • Watch Out for Symptoms: Keep an eye on any lingering symptoms or recurring illnesses. If you notice anything unusual, consult with a healthcare professional before resuming your exercise routine.
  • Be Mindful of Your Breathing: Pay attention to your breathing patterns during exercise. If you find it difficult to breathe or experience shortness of breath, ease off on the intensity and seek medical advice if needed.

Listening to your body is key to avoiding setbacks and ensuring a safe return to exercising.

2. Gradually Increase Intensity

Now that you’ve taken the initial steps and your body is adapting well, it’s time to gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. Here’s how to do it effectively:

  • Set Realistic Goals: Start with small, achievable fitness goals that align with your current capabilities. It could be a certain number of minutes of exercise or a specific distance covered.
  • Follow the 10% Rule: Increase the duration, intensity, or frequency of your workouts by a maximum of 10% each week. This gradual progression allows your body to adapt without overwhelming it.
  • Mix Up Your Routine: Incorporate a variety of exercises to avoid overusing specific muscles or joints. This helps reduce the risk of injury and keeps your workouts interesting.
  • Include Strength training. Strength training not only builds muscle but also strengthens your immune system. Start with lighter weights or bodyweight exercises and gradually increase as you regain strength.

By gradually increasing the intensity, you’ll rebuild your fitness level while minimizing the risk of setbacks or injuries.

3. Focus on Nutrition and Hydration

Proper nutrition and hydration are essential components of any fitness journey, especially after being sick. Here’s how to fuel your body for optimal recovery:

  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, not just during your workouts. Proper hydration supports your immune system and aids in the removal of toxins from your body.
  • Eat Balanced Meals: Focus on consuming a diverse range of whole foods that provide essential nutrients. Include lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats in your meals.
  • Prioritize Protein: Protein plays a crucial role in repairing and building muscle tissue. Make sure to include sources of lean protein such as chicken, fish, eggs, or plant-based options like legumes and tofu.
  • Boost Your Immune System: Include foods rich in vitamins C, D, and E, as well as zinc and antioxidants, to support your immune system’s recovery. Citrus fruits, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds are great options.

A well-nourished body recovers faster and performs better during exercise, so take care of your nutrition and hydration.

4. Get Adequate Rest and Sleep

Rest and sleep are often underestimated but critical aspects of any fitness routine, especially after being sick. Here’s why they matter:

  • Recovery and Repair: When you sleep, your body goes into repair mode, allowing damaged tissues to heal and regenerate. This is crucial for a healthy recovery after illness.
  • Muscle Growth and Strength: Rest is essential for muscle growth and strength development. Without adequate rest, you may experience muscle fatigue and a decreased ability to perform at your best.
  • Stress Reduction: Rest and sleep play a significant role in reducing stress levels. High-stress levels can hinder your immune system’s recovery and overall well-being.

Make sure to prioritize sleep and incorporate rest days into your exercise routine. It may feel counterintuitive, but it will ultimately help you regain your fitness levels more effectively.

5. Seek Professional Guidance if Needed

While the tips mentioned above are generally applicable, it’s important to remember that everyone’s recovery journey is unique. If you have any concerns or specific medical conditions, seeking professional guidance is vital. Here are some instances where professional support can be beneficial:

  • Chronic Illness or Injuries: If you have a chronic condition or have been injured, consulting with a healthcare professional or a qualified fitness trainer can help you create a tailored exercise plan that considers your limitations and goals.
  • Post-COVID Recovery: If you’ve had COVID-19, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before returning to exercise. Some individuals may experience long-term effects, and a specialized approach may be necessary.
  • Pre-existing Medical Conditions: If you have pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease, a healthcare professional can provide guidance on exercise modifications and precautions.

Professional guidance ensures that you receive personalized advice relevant to your specific circumstances, optimizing your recovery and minimizing risks.


Returning to exercise after being sick is a process that requires patience, attentiveness, and self-care. By listening to your body, gradually increasing intensity, focusing on nutrition and hydration, prioritizing rest and sleep, and seeking professional guidance when necessary, you can confidently restart your fitness journey. Remember, everyone’s recovery is unique, so be kind to yourself and celebrate every small milestone along the way. Stay committed, stay motivated, and embrace the journey of reclaiming your fitness after illness.

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