Return to post-COVID-19 exercise
Resuming exercise after an illness like COVID-19 takes planning and patience, says Maria Kyriacou, MD, primary care sports medicine physician at the Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute. Partnering with your health care provider will ensure your safe and gradual return to physical activity.
“People who have had COVID-19, especially those with pre-existing conditions, should see their doctor before resuming exercise to confirm resolution of their symptoms and assess their lung and cardiovascular health,” Dr. Kyriacou explained. .
Research has shown that the virus can affect many organs, especially the heart and lungs. Returning to high intensity activities too quickly can be harmful. On the other hand, too much time without exercise can also be harmful, as the health benefits of physical activity are well established. To resume an exercise routine after recovering from COVID-19, follow these tips from Dr. Kyriacou:
Go slowly. Experts suggest taking a four-phase approach with a minimum of one week devoted to each phase. Light intensity activities such as stretching, yoga, Tai Chi, and walking are good options for the first two phases. In phases three and four, you can introduce resistance training and aerobic exercises that test your balance, coordination and strength. The transition to more intense exercise should be done gradually and slowly, with the goal of returning to pre-coronavirus activities over a period of weeks or even months.
Be patient. Don’t push too hard on a recovering body. This virus causes inflammation and it takes time to recover. Keep in mind that it may take longer for you to progress if you’ve been heavily deconditioned. The saying “use it or lose it” applies to muscle. If you stop using your muscles, you’ll see a decrease in muscle mass and strength, especially as you age, says Dr. Kyriacou.
Listen to your body. If you experience symptoms such as chest pain or heart palpitations, stop exercising immediately and see your doctor. Be careful when exercising, otherwise you may injure yourself. Journaling and wearing devices and trackers can also help you track your progress and intensity levels.
Set realistic expectations. Many people set very high expectations and become frustrated if they have a setback or don’t see immediate results. It’s important to keep in mind what your body has been through and allow it time to adjust, advises Dr. Kyriacou. Although you may not see results in the first few weeks, you will see it over time.
Exercise is a long-term investment in your overall health. The immediate benefits of exercise include improved quality of sleep, decreased anxiety, improved mood, and lowered blood pressure. In the long term, regular exercise improves brain health, reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases, improves bone health, reduces weight gain, and improves immune function. And if you need more motivation to get moving, consider this: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that people who are physically active for about 150 minutes per week have a 33% lower risk of death than those who are physically inactive. .