The key to staying in shape is consistency: consistency with your diet, exercise routine, and general health. There are times when things like illness, injury, and even mental health issues can disrupt this routine. So how do you stay in shape when you simply don’t feel well? Here are some tips and tricks. 

Take it Easy, But Don’t Stop

There is no reason you can’t scale back or even pause your workouts if you are sick or injured. Exercise often helps with illness though, and if you have an injury you will want to do exercises that work the rest of your body and help you rehab your injury. 

Even if you are ill, you can still do some basic stretches to keep your body in the exercise routine. Simple yoga and even seated exercises and stretches can help. 

If you are ill with the flu or some other contagious illness, stay home to work out though. Don’t go the gym and spread the illness to others who are trying to stay healthy. Also, sanitize all of the items you use for your workout. You don’t want to re-expose yourself or others in your home who might use the same equipment to your illness. 

Seek the Right Medical Help

If you are injured or sick, seek the right medical attention. This is not the time to “tough it out” or try to resolve the issue yourself unless you simply have a cold or a minor sprain. If anything feels out of the ordinary, or you remain sick for a long time and just can’t seem to beat your illness, go see a doctor. 

The reasons are many, but one of the primary ones is that many serious conditions start with symptoms that mimic those of a minor condition but that are persistent. For instance, chronic heartburn can mean ulcers, acid reflux, or even certain kinds of cancer. 

Chest pains can indicate hidden heart problems and other issues. If you feel like you need more care than your regular doctor can provide, look for a specialist in the things you are experiencing. Without your health, there is little else you can do, so be sure your actions are helping you heal, not tearing your body down. 

Don’t Forget the Water

Sometimes when you don’t feel well, you crave water, but others you really don’t feel like drinking anything at all. In almost every case, drinking water is an essential part of healing. Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your body. 

Even when you are feeling well, you should be drinking the right amount of water every day. But what is the right amount of water, and how much do you really need? The answer is more individual than you might think. 

Men should drink an average of thirteen 8 ounce cups of water a day, women should drink 9. The amount your children need to drink can be broken down by age category. 

4-8 year olds: 5 cups a day
9-13 year olds: 7-8 cups
14-18 year olds: 11 cups

There are of course other factors. Women who are trying to get pregnant should be closer to 10 glasses a day, and women who are nursing should drink around 13 cups, or 104 ounces of water per day. 

On the days you do intense exercise, you should consume an extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water per day, and if you have vomiting or have diarrhea, you may need to add significantly more water, and even add drinks with electrolytes. 

Other considerations are your climate and elevation. For instance, if you are spending a lot of time outside when it is hot, or you live above 8200 feet in elevation, you will need to increase your water intake. The point is that water matters a lot, especially if you are not feeling well. 

Nutrition Makes the Difference

If you are ill, nutrition makes a big difference to how rapidly you heal, but it also makes a difference to you staying in shape. If you are not feeling well, so your workouts are not as intense, be sure to reduce your caloric intake accordingly.

While the old adage of feed a cold and starve a fever may not have much validity, you do need to be careful about what you eat when you are sick. It is tempting to grab things that are easy to make, but they may not be the best for you. 

Nutrition matters, a lot. Take in things with immune boosting properties, like Vitamin C and Zinc. If you can’t get enough in your diet, take supplements like Zicam or Airborne. Don’t overload with carbs, and remember that chicken soup really is good for the soul. Hot foods help clear your sinuses if you have a cold, and don’t contain empty calories. 

If you are ill for an extended period of time, don’t neglect protein either. This can help you retain muscle mass even if you can only work out a little at a time. 

It’s hard to keep fitness in mind when you don’t feel well, but if you don’t, your recovery time will be longer, and you won’t feel well any sooner. Take it easy, get medical help if you need it, and keep food and water in mind as you work toward wellness again.