How to return to exercise safely after Covid

Rushing into exercise can do you more harm than good.

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For many of us, exercise is part of our regular routine. And if you’ve “recovered” from Covid, it can be tempting to dive right back into it. Unfortunately, even if your symptoms disappeared, that would be a mistake.

Like tens of thousands of people, I caught the Covid for Christmas. I had a few days of fever, cough, sore throat, everything. “It’s either Covid or a very aggressive cold,” I texted my group chat, waiting for my PCR test result to come back. (It finally happened. Six days later.)

But once I was through the worst, I was tempted to spend my isolation time with a bit of at-home Pilates or bodyweight exercises. I couldn’t do my daily walks or work out, but I could do a few workouts at home…right?

Uh no. Apparently not. In fact, anyone who has caught Covid should avoid resuming high-intensity exercise until around seven days after their symptoms resolve, according to Dr Andrew Keech.

“If you go too hard too soon, there’s a big risk of ‘long haul’ Covid,” he said SHE Australia.

He is an exercise science practitioner at the University of New South Wales, and he said that in the absence of clear guidelines and research on how to return to more intense exercise, play the Safety is crucial when it comes to aiding your recovery and avoiding a long Covid.

The seven-day symptom-free recommendation is taken from guidelines for athletes, but even then, caution is warranted.

“Athletes are given medical support to rule out any underlying respiratory or cardiovascular issues like myocarditis (inflammation around the heart) resulting from the infection,” he said.

“The average person recovering from Covid doesn’t have that and so aims to err on the side of caution here. ‘Long-haul Covid’ seems like something not to mess around with.”

So why worry? Current data suggest that between 10-30% of patients have Covid symptoms for weeks to months after infection. And although not much is known about it yet, Dr Keech says it appears to have similarities to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which provides guidance for medical professionals.

“The problem is that CFS patients experience what we call ‘post-exercise sickness’, or an exacerbation of their symptoms after strenuous exercise or stress,” he said.

“CFS is therefore one of those rare chronic diseases that is not helped by significant levels of exercise. Intense exercise tends to delay a patient’s recovery, so we generally recommend ‘graded activity’ and a ‘rhythm’ (i.e. short periods of light intensity evenly spaced throughout the day, within the limits of symptoms). We might reasonably assume that people with ‘long-haul Covid will need a similar recovery plan.”

I also spoke with fitness queen and KIC co-founder Laura Henshaw, who herself caught Covid over the Christmas holidays.

“I certainly had guilty thoughts [about not exercising post infection] once in a while, but I quickly remember how important it is to rest and recover,” she said. SHE Australia.

“I have received countless messages from our beautiful KIC community members who also have Covid, wondering how to overcome feelings of guilt, so although we are all in isolation, we are certainly not alone.

“My main motivation for moving my body is the incredible impact it has on my mental health, so I’ve really tried to introduce things that have a positive impact on my mind when I’m resting. I traded my morning workouts for KIC guided meditation, they help me bring my mind back to the present and calm any thoughts of worry and unease – all it takes is 10 minutes and you can literally do it from your bed or your couch.”

What exercises to start after recovering from Covid

Once the fever and other symptoms have passed, Dr. Keech recommends resuming low-intensity exercise, such as walking or stretching.

“Stretching while lying on the floor or in bed is particularly helpful in minimizing the risk of dizziness due to poor blood pressure regulation during your illness,” he said.

“Exercise ‘snacks’ are growing in popularity and for good reason: rather than going for a long walk or a long stretch each day, break them down into smaller blocks of activity, say every hour or so This will promote circulation and minimize inflammation – it all helps you. recover from covid faster. So, recovering from mild cases of Covid, get up and move regularly. Long periods of bed rest are not optimal for the recovery of mild cases.”

“Listen to your body,” she advises. “I totally understand that moving your body can be very important to you, as it is to me, but if you push yourself too hard too soon, you may actually slow down your recovery. When you feel ready, start slowly with a gentle yoga. sink or go around the block.”

She also reminded people not to get too depressed if they weren’t as ‘strong’ or ‘fast’ as they were before Covid.

“Your body has been under a lot of stress and it’s important to take your time to slowly rebuild your strength and fitness,” she said. “You’ll get there, you just have to be patient. Keep monitoring how you feel and how you recover as you keep improving your workouts. And most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself.”

About Shirley A. Tamayo

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