When Not to Exercise
Are you too sick, tired, or sore to work out -- or are you slacking off?
Don't Rush Your Comeback continued...
It takes a lot of energy to maintain muscle strength, flexibility, and
cardiovascular fitness -- and little time to lose it. “Noticeable
decreases in exercise capacity can be seen in as little as two to three weeks,”
Return to exercise slowly and carefully.
That's what Shannon Hurt, a 32-year-old Atlanta mom, has been doing. An avid
walker/runner, Hurt was a week away from participating in a 5k when a test
revealed she had an irregular heartbeat and thickening of the heart
muscle. Exercise was off-limits until more tests could be completed.
That was several months ago. Now, Hurt has a prescription for heart medication -- and
doctor's orders to ease back into her workout regimen.
“The cardiologist said to slowly return to exercising, starting with walking
for 20 minutes or so each day and build back up to running,” Hurts says. “He
wants me to eventually get back up to 5 days a week at a minimum of 45 minutes
Easing Back Into Exercise
Walking is a great way to return to exercise without overtaxing the body,
Rice says. Here is his advice for returning to exercise from a break, injury,
- If you were away from the gym for less than a week, start at 80%-90% of
your original intensity and slowly increase it from there.
- If your break lasted longer than a week, reduce your intensity to 50%-60%
and increase by 10% each week.
“A safe rule is that a 10% per week increase in intensity and duration is
safe for everyone. Some people may be able to advance more quickly than
others,” Rice tells WebMD.
Many factors should be considered when determining how quickly you can
return to exercise after a hiatus. They include the length of your break, your
age, and previous fitness level. The more physically fit you were before your
break, the more quickly you will likely be able to return to your previous
level of activity. If you had a long-term illness, check with your doctor about
any exercise limitations. Never exercise if you have chest pain, shortness of breath, or
Remember, there is a fine line between pushing yourself and pushing yourself
“More is not always better,” Rothstein says. Moderate exercise can help
prevent, control, or improve some chronic illnesses such as
heart disease, cancer, or
fibromyalgia, but if you have an acute infection, rest is best.