Holidays + Sickness = No Fun
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
I have been battling my first case of Bronchitis this year. For those who have experienced this illness, you know that it takes about three to four weeks to fight it. More importantly, you have to be very careful as it can take a quick turn into pneumonia. I originally thought that it was a simple cough, but when it lasted into the second week, I knew that something was different. Fortunately I got to the doctor in time and got medication, but it took some arm twisting to get me to do it.
This whole experience has been a little rough for me. As a person that has experienced very little real sickness in his life; I once had the flu and was in bed for three days; being bed ridden for close to a week was a little surreal. Consider this, I have had three major surgeries in my life, all of which kept me down for several weeks with a considerable recovery time. You expect that with surgeries, mostly due to all of the cutting, removing and repair of internal organs. A viral infection that lasts for three weeks is something very new and different for me.
Now that the worst is over, it’s time to get back in the swing of things. A new year looms in a little under a week away and I have to get ready for a busy first quarter. I started trying to walk yesterday, which turns out to be the most physical activity I have had in the last two weeks. I am finding that my body is not up to getting back in the swing of my normal routine. I have very little enthusiasm and have to make myself get out of the chair, and force myself to exercise.
It was not surprising to find that a one mile walk was harder than I might have expected it to be the first day back. Today I made that same walk again and was very surprised that it was still just as hard. It is like the mind has these expectations of what the body can do, but the body is not in the place to do it yet. The old saying “the mind is writing checks the body can’t cash” comes to mind.
Realizing I needed to “adjust” my expectations I decided to do a little research on getting back into working out after an illness. I found several good articles and thought it would be a good idea to share parts of them for those who might be in the same situation as I am.
From the website Eat Move Improve, writer Steven Low had these suggestions on when to begin working out again after an illness:
Work slowly back if you are used to high intensity exercises. For a cold, a 1-2ish week buffer between getting back to full exercise is likely good.
For more severe illnesses such as influenza or pneumonia, I would take at least 2-3 weeks after all of the symptoms have subsided to work back into things with full intensity. The problem with going back to high intensity right away is that even if all of the symptoms have gone away there is still bacteria or viral loads in your body, just not enough to make you symptomatic. So high intensity exercise can actually depress your immune system enough to make the illness come back, sometimes even stronger than ever. Thus, it is best to be conservative with this.
If you’re using a typical 3x a week type of exercise schedule, start with about 20-30% of your typical full workouts, and ramp up by 10% until after about 2-3 weeks you will reach 100%. Best to be conservative than get an illness again and be out another couple weeks if not more.
I continued to look at other things, like food, to see if there were suggestions on food groups that may help with recovery. From the website Live Strong, writer Joseph McAllister had these suggestions:
Fruits and Vegetables
Be sure to eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible after being sick, as they contain important antioxidants that can boost your immune system and help your body regain its health and normal function. Choose raisins, blueberries and prunes for their high levels of antioxidants, and Brussels sprouts, spinach and kale are three vegetables that have very high antioxidant levels.
Your body needs protein to heal and repair itself, especially after being sick. Lean chicken, eggs and fish can all be nutritious and healthy sources of protein; as long as you prepare them without excessive fat or spices, they should not upset your digestive system as you recover from being sick. Consume nuts, peanut butter or tofu if you prefer vegetarian options.
Although harmful bacteria can make you sick, your body still needs beneficial bacteria — known as probiotics — to function properly. The University of Michigan Health System reports that probiotics can help strengthen your immune system and keep your digestion working properly. Many types of yogurt and cheese contain natural probiotics, and foods like apples, beans and berries can also help raise your body’s probiotic levels by providing prebiotics, which are plant-based food sources for these healthy bacteria that you can’t digest but they can.
My next goal is to take some of this great advice and start trying to implement it in my daily routine. Thought it may be an uphill battle, I am optimistic that things will return to normal before very long.
Do you have any suggestions on how to recover from sickness quicker? Please leave your comments or suggestion below.