Have you had COVID-19 and you aren’t quite sure how to safely return to exercise? Here’s what to do;
Firstly what is your risk level? Low, Moderate or High? To find out what your risk level is check this out;
- Low risk – if you are below 50 years of age and you didn’t experience any symptoms or you only experienced mild respiratory symptoms that were present for a maximum of 7 days.
- Moderate risk – if your symptoms, fatigue, shortness of breath or chest pain lasted over 7 days but you did not need to go to hospital.
- High risk – if you needed to go to hospital, or you experienced shortness of breath or chest pain at rest or while performing household duties.
If you are considered moderate or high risk, it is recommended that you present to your GP for a review prior to returning to exercise.
If you are considered ‘low risk’ the current advice is to return to exercise when you have been symptom free for at least 7 days. When you are able to perform activities of daily living easily and you are able to walk for 500m on a flat surface without feeling excessive breathlessness or fatigue or chest pain, you can safely resume exercise.
When you return to exercise, begin with 2 weeks of low intensity exercise such as walking, stretching/yoga, and light strength exercises for 15 minutes, progressing in duration if no symptoms present. Light intensity exercise means you are able to hold a full conversation with somebody as you exercise without getting breathless.
After performing 2 weeks of low intensity exercise, you can slowly progress week by week back up to your pre-covid exercise levels. The key is to slowly increase your training load so that your body can adapt safely. Your body will give you feedback on how it is coping with the increases in intensity. Ensure to monitor your recovery, Can you recover well 60 minutes post exercise? Can you recover well the day after exercise? Are you breathing at your normal rate? Is your heart beating at it’s normal rate? How is your fatigue? How is your mood? If you find any abnormalities for you, reduce your exercise levels and seek professional advice on how best to continue.
Symptoms to look out for are chest pain, severe shortness of breath or rapid/irregular heartbeat.
If you would like assistance in your gradual return to exercise, book in with our Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Rachel. She is also on her return to exercise journey post-covid!
Salman, D., Vishnubala, D., Feuvre, P.L., Beaney, T., Korgaonkar, J., Majeed, A. and McGregor, A.H. (2021). Returning to physical activity after covid-19. BMJ, [online] 372. Available at: https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.m4721.
ACSM_CMS. (n.d.). ACSM Blog. [online] Available at: https://www.acsm.org/blog-detail/acsm-certified-blog/2021/12/20/safe-return-to-physical-activity-after-covid-19#:~:text=Expert%20panels%20agree%20on%20several [Accessed 1 Feb. 2022].