If you're wondering, "how soon should I exercise after COVID?" or "can I exercise with post-COVID effects?", you are not alone. COVID-19 has affected the workout routines of countless people.
Since the emergence of COVID-19 in December 2019, medical knowledge about the virus and its effects on the body has rapidly evolved. Today, exercise medicine experts have helpful guidelines for exercising after infection.
Let’s explore how to safely return to exercise after recovering from COVID-19. This blog post will cover the following topics:
Symptoms after infection vary, and return to physical activity is highly individual. Establishing a new baseline relies on understanding your COVID journey— be it a mild or severe case.
As a result of battling the virus, your body has undergone significant physiological stress. COVID-19 affects multiple systems, including the respiratory, cardiovascular, and immune systems. The body's immune response to the infection, along with the lingering effects of the illness, can leave you feeling drained. This fatigue can persist even after the acute phase of the infection has passed.
Post-COVID fatigue is a common phenomenon reported by many individuals who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that feeling tired or weak after infection is a normal body response to the virus. As you start thinking about resuming your exercise routine after recovering from COVID-19, listening to your body and prioritizing adequate recovery time is essential.
The period before returning to exercise after COVID depends on your individual case. A comprehensive research study found in the National Library of Medicine recommends that, in general, people with no or minimal symptoms can resume their exercise routines in approximately 7 to 14 days, while people who experienced severe infection should wait longer and consult their healthcare provider for guidance.
One of the common symptoms of COVID-19 is breathlessness or dyspnea, which may persist even after recovering from the infection.
Before gauging your physical fitness for working out, assess your respiratory health carefully in partnership with your healthcare provider. Pay attention to lingering breathlessness during light activities or daily tasks. Starting slowly and gradually is crucial. Begin with gentle exercises like walking or yoga and increase the intensity as you feel comfortable and your respiratory symptoms improve.
Most people recover entirely from COVID, while others continue to experience symptoms for longer than normal, a condition referred to as Long COVID. For those who experience chronic symptoms, returning to exercise may seem challenging. However, it's important to note that low-intensity physical activity may help manage symptoms. According to one observational study, physical activity helped to alleviate some Long COVID symptoms, like fatigue.
Before you jump back into your workout routine, get the green light from your doctor first.
Here are some actionable steps for a safe return to exercise after COVID:
Don’t rush the recovery process. Even light sessions of yoga or stretching can help regain lost strength.
Recovery needs optimal hydration and nutrition. You should also try to prevent reinfection so that your body has the best chance for a full recovery. Check out our blog post on COVID prevention measures for tips on avoiding the virus.
Avoid pushing past your limits. If you experience any concerning symptoms, consult your healthcare provider.
Abide by your doctor’s guidelines on returning to exercise after COVID.
Remember, the journey back to fitness after COVID is like a marathon, not a sprint. So, don't rush it, and be gentle with yourself. Your health and safety are the top priorities, and rest may be the best workout you can do while in recovery. So, keep calm and exercise on... but only when you're ready!