I'm not too sure whether this is really a Health or a Fitness article but my own recent bout of flu prompted me to write this article.

I have kept myself fit all my life and the habit started in my early school days when I joined the school Cross Country team. I was never the best runner but I had to run every day to be good enough for the team. The habit stayed with me all my life and I twigged early on to the fact that running is one common denominator to most sports.

I didn't become fanatical but I went the usual routes of trying my luck at half marathons, then the marathon and also a triathlon. In other words, I put in enough effort to compete at high levels but I was never a champion runner.

As I became older jogging became less attractive as I was no longer competing in my preferred sports of Judo, Squash, Rugby and Football. I didn't need to jog. In fact, as of today I am quite happy to go on a nice long walk and do my thinking whilst I am walking.

Just before Christmas I felt my legs were very heavy when I came back from my walk down on the seafront. My body tells me when I am going to be ill and I have learnt to listen to what it tells me. This information came in very useful a few years ago when I contracted food poisoning and my legs became very heavy. The signs and symptoms were similar. The big clue was in the heaviness of my legs.

There really is only one sensible thing to do if it is possible. You need to get to bed and let your body fight the virus or bug. Sleep is the first line of defence and your body dictates how much you need. When you can't keep your eyes open then there is no point in fighting the feeling. It doesn't matter what you think you must do on your computer or telephone. Get to bed.

The first time that you wake up you really need to try and think whether you have a cold or the flu. Mostly, we don't have the flu and there are so many different types of colds and flu that it is hard to be precise in a diagnosis. With the advent of Swine Flu and Bird Flu it is sensible to take the precautions which are sensible to the way you feel. If there is any doubt then it is best to go with the way your stomach reacts to food. If there is no regurgitation then my feeling is that the body is happy to take a bit of food on board. If I feel there is the likelihood of being sick then the chances of flu are higher and it's time to starve the body.

My doctor used to always tell me to feed a cold and starve a virus and I think his advice has stood the test of time. He also said, “ If you have a cold and take pills it will last fourteen days or thereabouts. If you have a cold and don't take pills it will last a fortnight!”

If you can afford the pills and potions then I would rather spend my money on medicines than on beer but “you pays your money and takes your choice.”

I was flat on my back this time for four days. I didn't feel like moving from my bed and this tends to make me feel I have had a flu of sorts. I was drinking gallons of water and trying to get vitamins and minerals as much as I could. I started to feel better about a week later and struggled back to normality some two weeks later. I went out just once and the next day I was flat on my back again.

Was this the same bug coming back? Was this the same bug that hadn't gone away? Was this a different bug? The answer is I have no idea and the poor doctor I went to see seemed to have no idea either. Indeed, I felt great sympathy for the doctor who has to sit in front of so many patients and inhale their germs. It's a wonder that any doctors survive and the medical staff in general must be exposed to thousands of germs every day.

She gave me a Vitamin Boost to take every day and a special Vitamin C Booster. I also need an anti-biotic for my ear which has still not cleared up a fortnight later.

Now to the fitness bit. I wanted to motivate myself and get myself out on good walks by the sea. A Doctor Witty was the first to say that good walks by the sea are very therapeutic. I do feel the urge to walk by the sea. It certainly relaxes my mind.

My first few steps were very tentative and I couldn't understand how weak I was feeling. I don't like to be ill and I do not like taking my time making a recovery. This is the major point I wish to make.

It is folly to expect to feel as fit as I did feel four weeks ago. Fitness is a complete sense of physical and mental well-being according to the World Health Organisation and it is easy to feel a little depressed after the flu or suchlike.

Part of the problem is the depressing diet dished up by the television and therefore it is a good idea to switch off and read a book as soon as you can. A good radio station might also help.

Physical Fitness tends to take about six weeks to come and will be lost in around the same period of time. It was quite obvious I would have to be patient and build myself up after my days in bed.

We had recently looked at our eating habits and we had decided to build a sensible regime by the following methods. We would start the day with a breakfast of Goji Berries, Oats, Bananas and Nuts and 100% Vegetable Milk. This is both tasty and extremely nutritious.

We have knocked out the dairy products we used to eat and I loved cheese so this has been a sacrifice for me. We have cut down on Bread almost to the point of not eating it and we have built a great choice of vegetables to go into salads and stir-fries using Mediterranean Oil. We also tend to drink Green Tea more than coffee and other teas and we are being strict in our eating habits.

I have dropped from 87 Kg to 77 Kg and I am almost at my best fighting weight during all my competitive Judo years. I have also parted company with my 42” waist and got myself down to a sensible 36” waist. I felt this was really important as the damage to the internal organs can be exacerbated by the extra fat carried round the waist as middle-aged spread.

I am now back to my normal regime of stretching each day first thing in the morning and lifting a few light weights. Later in the day I will walk for a minimum of 30 minutes and I try to incorporate this with a walk and talk with my wife Anne.

I think we get out of practice of being ill and we have to re-educate ourselves as to how to cope with the recovery phase. Personally, I have come to terms with the fact that I am not a young buck with personal issues to prove. I will continue with my daily stretching and light weights. I will also make sure I get in a daily walk. If I were a lot younger then I would do exactly the same but I would be doubling the time and jogging or swimming as part of my daily regime.

I think we owe ourselves a daily effort and I think we also should build in exercise for our minds in whichever form is best for each of us. We know the value of taking liquids on board, especially water which is not fizzy, and I believe a good variety of fruit and vegetables each day will set my recovery on the right road.

Please feel free to visit my website at www.vincetracy.com

Author's Bio: 

Born on Merseyside, Vince is a radio broadcaster and teacher who did a BA degree as a mature student after working as a Sales Manager in Food Retailing and as a club DJ and cabaret artist. His degree in Community and Recreation majored in Physical Education. He then decided to turn to teaching and qualified by obtaining the Certificate in Education at Cornwall College. Vince deepened his knowledge of Education by studying a second degree via Exeter University in the Philosophy in Education. After teaching in Adult Education for ten years Vince retrained and worked in both Secondary and Primary Education. He moved to Spain with his wife, Anne, where he resumed a broadcasting career with the national broadcaster Onda Cero. These days he creates podcasts and Blogs on a daily basis and broadcasts with Coolfm974.com based in Benidorm on the Costa Blanca.