Returning to the Gym After a Viral Illness? Here’s How to Do It Safely

by sun

Returning to the gym after a bout of illness, particularly a viral infection, can be challenging but is important for regaining your fitness and overall well-being. Your body has just fought off an illness, and while you may be eager to jump back into your regular fitness routine, it’s crucial to approach it with caution and consideration.

Dr. Manoj Vithlani, a senior consultant physician and diabetologist at HCG Hospitals, Ahmedabad, emphasizes the importance of listening to your body. He advises, “When you’ve been unwell, your immune system works hard, and your energy levels are depleted. It’s essential to recognize that your body may not operate at the usual intensity and strength. Hence, it is better to start with low-intensity fitness activities like light cardio and stretching to prepare your muscles and joints for rigorous activities.”


Experts recommend paying close attention to your symptoms. Dr. Vithlani notes, “If you experience fatigue, persistent cold, and cough, it is better to avoid or postpone restarting the gym.”


Dr. Ritesh Shah, a senior consultant physician at Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai, advises against rushing the recovery process, stating, “Rest and sleep are your body’s best allies in the recovery process. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep to help your body heal and regain its strength. Adequate rest also helps your muscles recover faster. Inadequate sleep can hinder your progress and increase the risk of injury.”


Dr. Nidhin Mohan, a senior consultant in internal medicine at Narayana Health City Bangalore, emphasizes maintaining good hygiene in the gym, stating, “Wipe down equipment before and after use, use hand sanitizer, and avoid touching your face.”

Hydration and nutrition are also paramount during this period. Dr. Vithlani advises, “Your body requires hydration, especially after a viral. Ensure that you drink plenty of water before and after your workout. Hydrating yourself with electrolyte-rich beverages can be beneficial, especially when you’ve lost fluid during illness or fever.”

Dr. Shah underscores that resuming your gym routine after a viral illness is a gradual process that requires patience and self-awareness. He says, “By taking your time, starting with lighter workouts, getting sufficient rest, and being adaptable, you’ll increase your chances of a successful and injury-free return to your fitness routine.”

To aid in recovery, it is essential to consume a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and protein. Dr. Vithlani recommends prioritizing whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains while avoiding processed, sugary, or highly processed foods, as they can undermine your immune system and energy levels.

Here are some key tips to keep in mind when returning to the gym after a viral illness:

If your viral illness lasted for five days, consider spending the next 10 to 15 days gradually building back to your previous workout intensity.

Begin with easy-level workouts lasting around 20 to 30 minutes. Each day, add five or ten minutes to your workout duration during the first week. This can include light cardio, stretching, or yoga to ease back into physical activity.

Pay extra attention to stretching and warming up. Your muscles may be stiff from the period of inactivity, as advised by Dr. Mohan.

Don’t push too hard or too fast. “Overexertion can set back your recovery. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts over time,” warns Dr. Mohan.

Returning to the gym after an illness demands patience, a focus on self-care, and a gradual approach. By heeding these guidelines, you can ensure a safe and effective return to your fitness routine.


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