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Take it slow when returning to exercise after illness

Betty Doyling after competing in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series Las Vegas. The race was her first 10K since learning she had a brain tumour eight months ago (Photograph supplied)

Sometimes we consciously take a hiatus from our workouts, however no one likes having to take a break from exercise because of something outside of their control.

Getting sick or injured can mean weeks or even months away from your normal routine.

Eight months ago I had a pituitary adenoma. The benign, slow-growing masses represent about ten per cent of all primary brain tumours removed. For the first couple of months walking was my only recommended form of exercise.

Initially, I found it frustrating but I followed all medical recommendations and last Sunday completed my first 10k running race in Las Vegas! To get where I wanted to be physically and mentally, I had to change my way of thinking. For anyone going through anything similar, check out my tips below:

Change your expectations

Regaining physical strength after an injury or condition is always a priority, however getting yourself in the right mindset to be able to do so is just as important. Realising you’re not as fast or strong as you used to be isn’t a great feeling once you return to exercise. However try not to compare your fitness now with what it was before. Start with comparing the first day you were allowed to exercise with your eighth exercise session. If that eighth day is better then Day 1, you are making progress.

You may have an idea of what you want to do during your first few workouts – try and do less than that. If you overdo it in the beginning, there is a higher risk of setback or injuring yourself again.

Shorten Your workouts

Once your doctor gives you the okay to resume exercising, limit your workouts to low-impact cardiovascular exercises such as walking. Between 5 and 15 minutes once or twice a day, depending on your history and current physical condition, is better than trying to push your body to do 30 to 40 minutes at one time. Once you’ve established a safe and solid routine, you can try increasing your time or intensity. Most of us are goal-oriented when we workout. My goal was to start running again and complete a race this year. Normally I would have aimed for speed but I aimed for continuous running. I suggest that instead of reverting back to your previous goals, set some new ones that feel realistic considering your physical status. This will help you focus on your current progress instead of focusing on what you can’t do.

Take it slowly and be consistent

Doing too much too soon could cause you to end up out of commission. During recovery it is important to remember that you will have a few ups and downs. You may feel fabulous one day and then have a set back the following. Just make sure you check in with your doctor with any major concerns. As long as you are showing improvement and the overall trend is upward, you’re on the right path.

Stay Positive

Stay positive and celebrate daily successes. I truly believe my recovery was based on positive thinking, and the support and prayers of others. It is important to feel your feelings and to miss the loss of your fitness, however try not to dwell on it. Change your focus to appreciate your recovery and push towards your progress.

Recover well and B-Active for Life!

Betty Doyling is a certified fitness trainer and figure competitor with more than a decade of experience. Look for B. ActiveForLife on Facebook

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Published March 09, 2022 at 7:49 am (Updated March 09, 2022 at 7:38 am)

Take it slow when returning to exercise after illness

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