It is a beautiful June summer day and the sun is shining outside, and yet I am at home, sitting in my PJ’s nursing the dreaded cold / flu bug that is doing the rounds. If, like me, you like to keep your exercise routine on track you will understand how I am feeling about falling off the plan, and how impatient I am to get back to the gym, but it’s important to wait until you’re ready.

Viruses, colds, flu and bugs can reak havoc with a carefully balanced fitness plan, but it’s important to take a few things into consideration before throwing yourself back into a frenetic gym session. I’m regularly asked when is the right time to resume exercise after you have had a bout of illness so I thought I’d tell you a couple of ways you you can judge here.

Your heart rate.

Not everyone keeps a record of their resting heart rate, but if you do this can give a good indication. On average, if your resting heart rate is 10 beats per minute above normal then avoid exercise and rest some more!!

Where are you symptoms, and what are they?

If you are suffering from symptoms mainly from the shoulders up e.g. runny nose / sore throat / mild cold like symptoms in general, but you feel generally well enough to exercise then it is deemed OK to do some sort of exercise. But do bear in mind you should plan to have a much lighter workout than you would normally if you were generally well, and of course if at any time you start to feel unwell you should stop.

If your symptoms are from the shoulders down e.g. tight chest / cough / stomach upset, then you shouldn’t be exercising at all.  Exercising with major cold or flu symptoms or with a fever can be particularly dangerous as it can put a strain on your heart. If you have a fever then your body is already trying to fight your illness, so exercise can make your illness last a lot longer.

Be patient.

I understand that it can be frustrating staying away from the gym, and we are all in danger of thinking that a few days out of the exercise loop can have a huge impact on our whole regime, but it should be understood that it is far better to take the appropriate rest period and return to exercise once you are fully recovered than dive back in too soon. Quality over quantity is the key – you can’t train effectively whilst you are unwell, so it is beneficial to wait until you are back to fitness and you can train properly before getting back into it.

One more thing that’s important – when you do feel well enough to hit the gym again remember to take it a little more gradual than normal. It may take 2 – 3 workouts before you can get back to your normal routine, so don’t feel that you have to make up for lost time!!