5 Ways to Return to Exercise After COVID

exercise gymnastics

COVID is a respiratory illness that can affect your performance in sports or training. While the majority of people will experience mild symptoms that they can brush off, others may feel short of breath and sluggish weeks after the illness is gone. Every recovery journey is different, and the severity of Covid doesn’t determine how your body will react afterward.

When the cardiorespiratory system cannot efficiently deliver oxygen to working muscles, what previously used to be a light to moderate intensity activity will feel quite vigorous. Sleep and rest will help you fight it during the illness, but you should get to exercising a week after the symptoms disappear.

At the early stages of the pandemic, professional and collegiate sports leagues canceled their tournaments and seasons in fear of spreading COVID-19 and due to alarming reports of athletes developing myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, after a COVID-19 infection. Fortunately, the research found that the cases of heart inflammation were lower than initially thought.

After a Covid-19 infection, athletes should go under evaluation before they can resume their regiment. However, non-athletes generally don’t have to undergo further testing as long as the symptoms are gone and they feel fine.

Set Realistic Expectations

Covid-19 is a serious illness, even if you have mild symptoms. You want to start with easy, low-impact workouts and transition into higher intensity workouts. You may not be able to get back to your original exercise regiment immediately, so you will need to plan your transition. 

You can reduce your activity by 50 percent of what you were previously doing in the first week as a starting point. You can do it the following week at 30 percent below your average if you can handle that. Then consequently do 20 and 10 percent lower on consecutive weeks. That is a way to get your exercise regiment back in four weeks.

Try a Lower Impact Exercise 

Your body isn’t what it used to be, so you need to start with low-impact, accessible exercises. One of the most straightforward and accessible exercises is walking. It’s something anyone can do, and you get the benefits of getting fresh air. You can start with slow, short walks, then increase your pace and distance as you feel better. 

Don’t overdo it; walking shouldn’t leave you extremely exhausted or breathless. Another low-impact exercise you can try is yoga. It’s something you can do from home, and it improves your physical health.

Slowly Increase the Intensity of Your Workout

Slowly increasing your workouts over time is important. For example, if an athlete does well with low-intensity workouts for some time, it might be worth trying higher intensity workouts. 

Starting resistance training will help you to reactivate muscles. Bodyweight exercises, like squats and push-ups on your knees, are a good starting point; you want to ease into the intensity until your strength is back. As you gain your strength back, you can add light weights to your exercise routine. You can use milk cartons or a weighted backpack if you don’t have weights.

exercise gym

Swimming, elliptical machines, or stationary bikes are good options at this point. They allow you to start slow and gradually increase the intensity.

Light resistance training produces hormones and cell-signaling molecules like cytokines that help the immune system in body repair.

Listen to Your Body

You don’t have to over-exert yourself during recovery. Pushing through the sluggishness will not make you recover faster. If you push too hard, you may endanger yourself.

Some cases of COVID-19 can create intense inflammation throughout the body. The inflammation that got a lot of press was the one that affected the cardiac muscle, causing myocarditis. Myocarditis can develop into arrhythmia, where the heart beats irregularly. Myocarditis can also lead to ventricular arrhythmia, where you could have a heart attack.

For those reasons and others, you should listen to your body. Use any fitness devices, like smartwatch or fitness trackers, to monitor your vitals. If any part of your body feels out of place, consult a doctor.

Stay Persistent 

Recovery can be a frustrating process, but you should stay committed to your goals. Remember, you didn’t get to your peak by luck; you worked for it. To get back, you will need to show the same level of perseverance. 

If you feel like your commitment is swaying, use whatever you can to stay focused. You can watch fitness videos, look for inspiration, or treat yourself to new clothes and accessories for sports like sports sunglasses.

Get Your Rhythm Back

Covid-19 can be like many other injuries or illnesses in that if you rush into intensive exercise, you could end up doing more harm than good. Ease into your exercise regimen and listen to your body. Remember that individuals are different, so that recovery times may differ. So carefully plan your routine, practice restraint, and be patient.