Gear Up to Fit - new Logo (272 × 40 px)
Search
Close this search box.

How to Return to Exercise After COVID

Table of Contents

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people are working from home, and exercising has taken on a new meaning. Learn how to return to exercise after COVID!

If you’re one of the millions who have recovered from COVID-19, you might wonder how to return to your normal exercise routine without risking your health or hurting yourself. Exercise can help you regain your strength, endurance, mobility, and mental well-being after COVID-19. However, it’s essential to approach returning to exercise cautiously due to the potential challenges and risks.

In this article, we’ll show you how to assess your readiness to exercise after COVID-19, how to start exercising safely and gradually, and what to do if you encounter any problems. By following these steps, you can confidently and easily return to exercise after COVID-19.

Key Takeaways

  • Gradually increase the intensity and duration of workouts to avoid post-COVID fatigue.
  • Listen to your body, rest when needed, and don’t push yourself too hard.
  • Incorporate stretching and mobility exercises to improve flexibility and reduce muscle stiffness.
  • Prioritize proper nutrition and hydration to support your body’s recovery process.
  • Consider working with a fitness professional to create a personalized exercise plan.
  • Stay up to date with the latest guidelines and recommendations from health authorities.
  • Be patient with yourself and celebrate small victories along the way.

How to Assess Your Readiness to Exercise After COVID-19

Returning to Exercise After Recovering from COVID

Before you start exercising again after COVID-19, it’s important to consult your doctor to ensure it’s safe for you. Your doctor might perform various tests or evaluations such as blood tests, electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram (ECHO), chest X-ray, pulmonary function test (PFT), or cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) to assess your heart and lung function and rule out any complications that may affect your exercise capacity and performance.

As a general rule of thumb:

  1. If you had no symptoms or mild symptoms that resolved within 10 days without hospitalization or oxygen therapy:
    • You can resume light exercise (such as walking) after at least 10 days of isolation and no symptoms for at least 24 hours.
    • You can resume moderate exercise (such as jogging) after at least 14 days of isolation and no symptoms for at least 24 hours.
    • You can resume vigorous exercise (such as running) after at least 21 days of isolation and no symptoms for at least 24 hours.
  2. If you had moderate symptoms that required hospitalization or oxygen therapy:
    • You should wait at least 4 weeks after discharge and clearance from your doctor before resuming any exercise.
    • Start with light exercise and gradually increase the intensity and duration over several weeks or months, depending on your recovery and your doctor’s advice.
  3. If you had severe or critical symptoms that required intensive care unit (ICU) admission or mechanical ventilation:
    • You should wait at least 6 weeks after discharge and clearance from your doctor before resuming any exercise.
    • Start with very light exercises (breathing exercises) and slowly progress to light exercises over several months, depending on your recovery and your doctor’s advice.
See also
Which of the following statements is not true about metabolism?

How to Start Exercising Safely After COVID-19

General Recommendations for Athletes with Covid

It’s crucial to start exercising slowly and gradually after COVID-19 to avoid overloading your body or causing harm. Doing so can rebuild your strength, endurance, mobility, and mental well-being without exacerbating your condition or triggering new complications. Here are some guidelines for different types of exercise:

Aerobic Exercise

Regular physical activity before and after Covid

Aerobic exercise involves continuous movement that increases your heart rate and breathing. It can improve cardiovascular health, lung function, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, weight management, mood, and cognition. Examples include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing, etc.

For beginners:

  • Start with 10 to 15 minutes of low-intensity aerobic exercise 3 to 5 times a week.
  • Increase the duration by 5 minutes every week until you reach 30 minutes.
  • Then, increase the intensity gradually by adding hills, speed variations, or intervals every week until you reach a moderate level.
  • Avoid high-intensity aerobic exercise until you fully recover from COVID-19 and have clearance from your doctor.

For intermediate exercisers:

  • Start with 20 to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise 3 to 5 times a week.
  • Increase the duration by 5 minutes every week until you reach 45 minutes.
  • Then, gradually increase the intensity by adding hills, speed variations, or intervals every week until you reach a vigorous level.
  • Avoid high-intensity aerobic exercise until you fully recover from COVID-19 and have clearance from your doctor.

For advanced exercisers:

  • Start with 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise 3 to 5 times a week.
  • Increase the duration by 5 minutes every week until you reach 60 minutes.
  • Then, increase the intensity by adding hills, speed variations, or intervals every week until you reach a maximum level.
  • Avoid high-intensity aerobic exercise until you fully recover from COVID-19 and have clearance from your doctor.
See also
Benefits of assisted stretching: Cure All Your Joint And Muscle Issues

Resistance Exercise

Resistance exercise involves using weights, bands, machines, or your own body weight to create resistance against your muscles. It can improve muscle strength, power, endurance, size, tone, posture, balance, bone density, metabolism, and injury prevention. Examples include squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, rows, bicep curls, tricep extensions, etc.

For beginners:

  • Start with one set of 8 to 12 repetitions of each major muscle group twice weekly.
  • Use light weights or bands that allow you to complete the set with good form but with some effort.
  • Increase the number of sets by one every week until you reach three sets.
  • Then, increase the weight or band resistance by a small amount every week until you reach a moderate level.
  • Avoid heavy weights or high-volume resistance exercises until you fully recover from COVID-19 and have clearance from your doctor.

For intermediate exercisers:

Are You Ready To Return to Exercise After COVID?
  • Start with two sets of 8 to 12 repetitions of each major muscle group twice weekly.
  • Use moderate weights or bands that allow you to complete the set with good form but some difficulty.
  • Increase the number of sets by one every week until you reach four sets.
  • Then, increase the weight or band resistance by a small amount every week until you reach a challenging level.
  • Avoid heavy weights or high-volume resistance exercises until you fully recover from COVID-19 and have clearance from your doctor.

Listen to your body, monitor your symptoms, and adjust your workouts accordingly. It’s important to seek guidance from a qualified fitness professional or physical therapist.

FAQs

How long should I wait before returning to exercise after having COVID? It is recommended to wait at least two weeks after your symptoms have resolved before returning to exercise.

What precautions should I take when returning to exercise after COVID? Start slowly, listen to your body, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.

Are there any specific exercises I should avoid when returning to exercise after COVID? Avoid high-intensity exercises and heavy weights initially. Focus on low-impact activities and gentle stretching.

Should I consult a healthcare professional before returning to exercise after COVID? It is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before resuming exercise after COVID.

What are some signs that I should stop exercising and seek medical advice after recovering from COVID? Stop exercising and seek medical advice if you experience severe shortness of breath, chest pain, or extreme fatigue.

Conclusion

Returning to exercise after COVID-19 requires careful planning and consideration. By assessing your readiness, starting slowly, and gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts, you can safely rebuild your strength, endurance, mobility, and mental well-being. Remember to consult with your doctor before resuming exercise after COVID-19 and follow their advice. With patience and persistence, you’ll be able to regain your fitness levels and enjoy the many benefits of regular physical activity once again.

See also
How To Know if Swimming or Running Is Better for Your Health

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any exercise program after recovering from COVID-19.