So, you’re one of the over 100 million human beings (and counting) that have been officially diagnosed with Covid-19. Thankfully (we assume because you’re reading an article like this), your symptoms were such that instead of a trip to the hospital, you’re once again contemplating the merits of movement. In general, exercise and illness are not a great combination, but that’s about where the simplicity ends. When it comes to exercise and Covid-19, there is still a lot we don’t know and even what we do know is somewhat complicated as people are affected in vastly different ways.
Here is how to stay safe when getting back into exercise after having Covid-19:
Exercising while sick with Covid-19:
The first and most important thing that you need to know is that you should NOT engage in any kind of strenuous activity while you are experiencing an active case of Covid-19 unless specifically cleared to do so by a medical professional. The main reason for this is because the virus can damage and inhibit the cardiovascular system and lungs. Both are vital when it comes to exercise and when they are not functioning properly, raising your heart rate can be extremely dangerous. If you’re only experiencing mild “above the neck” symptoms, moderate exercise can aid in recovery.
If you’re experiencing even mild Covid-19 symptoms but haven’t gone for a test (hopefully you’re at least self-isolating), it’s just as important to avoid intense physical activity. Equally, if you’re self-isolating because someone you came into contact with has the virus but you’re not showing any symptoms yourself, it’s highly advisable to exercise with extreme caution. Studies have shown that exercising can bring on or worsen symptoms in asymptomatic or mild cases.
Exercising After Having Covid-19
As we have learned over the past year, there is a wide range of possible outcomes for those who contract Covid-19. Your timeline for getting back into exercise post-virus will depend on how severe your bout of the illness was and how quickly your body bounces back from it. Here are some rules of thumb you can follow to guide you back into exercise after having Covid-19:
- Build up slowly. Whether you were asymptomatic or just got back from the hospital, it’s best not to rush into anything crazy right away. There is still a lot we don’t know about the long-term effects of this illness and even some extremely mild cases been have shown to leave lasting damage. Start slow and monitor the effects of physical activity on your body both while you do it and afterward.
- Speak to a doctor if you experience any extreme side effects from exercise. It’s normal to struggle a little (or a lot) when you first start exercising post-Covid. The kind of symptoms that may warrant further attention include extreme shortness of breath, fainting or extended periods of dizziness, an abnormally elevated heart rate, vomiting or anything that you never used to experience during and after exercise.
- Getting enough sleep and having a good diet are both vital when recovering from Covid-19. This is even more true once you start exercising. The extra strain you put on your body while training can be detrimental to your recovery if you don’t give it the nutrition and rest it needs to recover. On the other hand, doing these two things along with exercise will multiply the benefits and likely speed up your recovery.
Can exercise prevent Covid-19?
The short answer is no. Only antibodies produced by your body because of previous exposure to the virus or a vaccine can prevent you from contracting it, and neither of those is a sure thing either. That said, the outcomes of people who are already healthy and at least somewhat physically fit before contracting Covid-19 are on average much better than those in poor physical condition or with pre-existing health conditions. So it’s definitely worth your while to stay fit and look after your body, although that was true before this pandemic and will remain so forever.
Why not enlist a pro?
Whether you’re recovering from illness or trying to prevent it, having a professional by your side is a great way to improve your odds of achieving your goals. That’s why we created Heck Yeah, the world’s first true marketplace where fitness seekers can connect with health & exercise professionals from a variety of fields, located all over the world. No matter your objectives, on Heck Yeah you’ll find a qualified and experienced pro that is ready to help you achieve them.