If you’ve been bed ridden for a while, had a heart attack or any long term major condition, you need to combat the toll it has taken on your body and fight back. It’s tough getting back to exercise after a major health issue, but that’s exactly when you need to do it, with your health care professionals blessing, of course. It may be easier said than done, since after a layoff of inactivity, you may not have the energy to increase your activity level.
Lack of muscle use equals lack of energy and strength.
You don’t have to suffer an illness to have a problem getting back into exercise. Muscle disuse atrophy starts in as little as 72 hours on smaller muscle groups. The large muscles take longer. That can occur to anyone who isn’t active, healthy or not. When you’re trying to get back into shape, listening to your body is extremely important. Do as much as you can without overtaxing. Each person will have a different level of exhaustion based on age, severity of the condition, fitness level before the problem occurred and length of time incapacitated.
You may be only able to do one set of one repetition when you first start or just get into the right form to start the exercise. It doesn’t matter, anything you do toward working out counts and improves your overall fitness. If you’re able to walk, do so daily. Go as far as you can until your body tells you otherwise. It may only be a few feet or a half block, but it’s a start. Even if you think you can do more, take it easy at first.
Don’t be afraid to get exercise, as long as you have the doctor’s okay.
Serious conditions like heart attacks often make people afraid to workout, when in reality, that’s exactly what they should do. There’s an inverse relationship between exercising and a coronary event. That means the more you get, the less your chance of another one. A study in Europe showed that exercising after a coronary event lowered the risk of dying of a heart attack in the next four years by 50%. Even low activity cut the risk by more than one third, which climbed to as much as 59 % based on increased activity.
- If your condition was severe enough to warrant physical therapy, follow the suggestions of the therapist. Do other types of movement on the times you aren’t in therapy, such as walking.
- Don’t neglect a healthy diet while trying to get back into shape. Eating a nutritious diet can help speed the process.
- Keep hydrated. Even if you aren’t a water drinker, it’s time to change your ways. Even minimal efforts can work up a sweat.
- Stay positive. It may be a struggle, but instead of thinking “why me?” consider this as an opportunity to come back even stronger than before the illness, injury or chronic condition. That feeling of gratitude helps lower stress levels and keeps you focused on your progress.