How to Start Exercising After a Stomach Virus

Even when your stomach virus is officially over, which can take days or weeks, you can be left feeling drained. The virus wreaks havoc on both your immune system and your nutrition. Getting your strength back after a stomach virus will take time. Speed up your recovery while letting your gastrointestinal system get some much-needed rest. Children, the elderly and those with immunocompromising diseases, such as HIV, may need medical assistance to get over the viral effects.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Hydrate yourself by sipping on clear liquids throughout the day. One of the most common debilitating symptoms of the stomach virus is dehydration, which can leave you feeling lethargic. Alternate plain water, sports drinks and broth to get your fluids and electrolytes balanced.

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Monitor your hydration by watching your urine production, color and amount. If you are not drinking enough to recover, your urine may be dark and trips to the bathroom sparse. Excessive thirst and dry mouth are also symptoms of dehydration.

Eat to rebuild your strength. Stick with foods that are easy on your recovering gastrointestinal system, including dry toast, crackers, bananas, rice, potatoes and lean proteins such as skinless poultry. Arrange for up to five or six small meals throughout each day, as opposed to two or three large ones.

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Avoid alcohol, caffeine, dairy and fried or fatty foods. These foods are difficult to digest and may over-tax an already tired digestive system. You can reintroduce these foods, one at a time, as you feel your strength and appetite return.

Get a good night's sleep. Your body is still recovering. A healthy six to eight hours of rest each night will help your body heal and replenish your immune defenses.

Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently for 20 seconds using soap and warm water before you eat or drink and after you use the toilet. Your immune system just finished removing the stomach virus from your body -- don't cause it more work by introducing bacteria from unwashed hands.

Resume your exercise regimen when the weakness and fatigue have abated. Start at half of your original workout -- for instance 20 minutes on the elliptical as opposed to 40 -- and progress gradually. Exercising too hard too soon after an illness can extend your recovery period.


The stomach flu is highly contagious. Wash all hard surfaces in your home, such as counter tops and door knobs, with a disinfectant.