Many individuals know the fear, frustration, and heartbreak of being involved in a car accident. Motor vehicle crashes are disturbingly common in the United States– over 5 million crashes per year, to be precise. With 77% of all vehicles on the road in need of maintenance or repairs, that number seems unlikely to decrease any time soon.

A car accident can happen at any time, disrupting your day and potentially your long-term plans. If you’re on a fitness journey and become injured in a car accident, resulting in delays in your health progress can be devastating. Even minor injuries may cause fitness setbacks. More serious injuries, however, might force an individual to reconsider their goals altogether.

Recovering from any kind of accident is never easy. However, with patience, you can create a positive step-by-step plan for returning to your fitness lifestyle. Here are five tips for returning to work, exercise, and life in general after a car accident:

1. Go to the Doctor

It seems obvious, but speaking with your doctor about any and all injuries is essential to a speedy recovery. Don’t skip a check-up just because you think you’re only bumped and bruised — you could still have a concussion, whiplash, or pulled muscle that may impact exercise. A doctor can offer advice for returning to exercise safely after any kind of major or minor incident.

2. Give Yourself Time

Healing any kind of injury cannot happen overnight. Though you may want to get back in the race or back to the weights, trying to do too much too soon will worsen your injuries and delay your goals even more. Some car-related injuries like minor whiplash may only prevent exercise for a few days. However, other non-critical injuries like bone fractures can still take two to 10 weeks to heal. Be patient, and listen to your doctor.

3. Take A Break From Other Life Activities, Too

The “give yourself time” rule does not only apply to exercise. Take time to truly rest before returning to any activity that might worsen injuries or slow your recovery, including work and school. Often, car accidents cause emotional responses and leave individuals utterly exhausted. Take as much time off as your workplace will allow. Try talking directly to your employer to explain the situation. If your accident occurred during work duties, seek out information about worker’s compensation. Of all U.S. states, 74% require worker’s comp coverage, so don’t hesitate to utilize these resources to protect your recovery time.

4. Return to Fitness With Gentle Exercise

Once your doctor has cleared you for moderate exercise, take it easy with activities like walking and stretching. You may find new aches and pains when returning to workouts, so listen to your body and don’t push past injuries. YEG Fitness recommends aqua therapy and even singing to burn a few calories and engage muscles while recovering from more severe wounds. If you want to be sure that you are following professional advice when getting back into exercise, consider hiring a personal trainer who will help gradually increase your workout intensity with special consideration to your injuries.

5. Consider Alternative Goals and Methods

Just as improving your fitness or losing weight is both a mental andphysical challenge, recovering from an accident will take more than bodily strength. Though frustrating, reevaluating or delaying your fitness goals may be the best option. Reschedule a race, hold off on calorie-counting, and focus on healing first.

If your injuries are permanent, such as a bad knee or back injury, you might not be able to achieve the fitness level you originally desired. If you still really want a toned, lithe look, cosmetic surgery may be an option. For example, liposuction for those over age of 18 and within 10 to 20 pounds of their target weight, and abdominoplasty can restore separated abdominal muscles. Spend time journaling and using other good mental health strategies to practice self-acceptance, and carefully decide whether surgery or a new outlook is best for you.

Car accidents can happen in an instant and sometimes change your life forever. When a crash gets in the way of your fitness dream, you may feel frustrated, sad, or tempted to give up. Remember these tips to focus on healing first, so that you can recover quickly and return to crushing your fitness goals!

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