I had the misfortune of falling ill with the flu just after Christmas. Bed-bound with a hacking cough, snot, sore throat, raging fever giving me hallucinations, shivers and full body aches: you name it, I felt it. However, I’d anticipated that once the core symptoms had disappeared I’d be back in the gym or pounding the pavement getting those marathon miles in. Ha!
It turns out (and I don’t get ill very often, so I had no expectations here) that it’s not quite that simple. Although my flu symptoms had started to abate around day 4, and I felt physically more awake and ‘with it’ by day 6-7, the fatigue was still ever-present well into week 2. Anything more than pottering about the house to make a coffee would render me exhausted and needing a lie down.
To go from working out 6 days out of 7, sometimes twice a day, to being unable to do basic chores because I felt so lethargic was a shock to the system; I felt utterly weak and helpless. So, this was all I could do…
Getting actual proper rest
I spent many days doing as little as possible. Although it killed me to see the standards of housework slip, and my poor husband having to work 9 hour days and then come home and have to do everything with the kids and the cats, it was integral to my recovery that I do as little as possible. Although I wanted to be back on my feet, if I’d rushed back into doing everything I normally do I’d have affected my heart rate & immune response which may have prolonged my illness.
I took a vitamin supplement
Although I don’t normally bother with vitamins (although I do often take magnesium and potassium) the combination of the flu and a bad period (top timing, body!) meant I felt the need for a little boost. I invested in a large bottle of Floradix Liquid Iron Formula: the iron for the period and the vitamins just to give me that little boost as I wasn’t eating particularly well for the duration of my illness. I don’t know whether it was the coincidence of timing but within 48 hours of starting on the Floradix I felt significantly more awake and was able to go for short walks and get back into a routine.
I drank water constantly
Although I was really struggling to eat for the first week, I seriously prioritised staying hydrated throughout. It helped keep the snot thin and loose (delightful) and I like to think it helped flush all the flu-y nasties out of my body. I don’t know if this is true but it felt certainly felt more positive than doing nothing!
I’m now back on my feet and building up to the run distance and workout level I was holding at before. I may have jumped into a full week of workouts a little too quickly but I feel alive. I can breathe more easily, I feel strong and relatively healthy again and it’s a pleasure to be up and about. That’s fitness, to me!
Lead image by Kelly Sikkema
2 comments on "Fitness and the Flu"
Sorry to hear you’ve been so unwell, but seems like you’re handling getting back into your workout routine brilliantly. I was hit by tonsillitis two weeks ago so have some idea of how frustrating it is to build up your strength again after illness.
Oh, my sympathies – I used to get tonsillitis all the time and it’s a proper pain in the bum (well, throat!) Hope you’re feeling better?