Post-COVID Recovery: How To Get Back To Exercising Safely
Getting back into your usual training routine can feel a bit challenging after an extended rest period due to illness or injury. If you’ve recently had COVID-19 and feel ready to hop back into your routine, you should know how to get back to exercising safely. Post-COVID recovery is a long road for some individuals, and you can’t just jump back into your previous routine. Keep your heart and body healthy with advice from sports medicine professionals.
How COVID-19 Impacts Your Body
Before we get into how you should begin readjusting to exercise, it’s important to discuss how this virus impacts your body. Many health experts worry about how COVID-19 affects the heart and, more importantly, the lasting damage it may cause.
The American Heart Association has studied this and noticed that many individuals diagnosed with the virus later face cardiovascular complications. Experts have also pointed out that since the virus attacks the lungs, this could also be the reason why many people feel exhausted or struggle to catch their breath—it’s not always a heart issue. Since the virus is still relatively new, experts are unclear about how severe these effects are, but it doesn’t negate the risk factors.
Heart problems are concerning for athletes because they already put a fair amount of strain on their hearts during a workout. If your heart becomes impaired for any reason, additional stress could lead to hospitalization or worse.
The Concern of Myocarditis
Many medical professionals have also noted that some individuals with COVID-19 developed myocarditis or an enlarging of the heart. This is concerning since this diagnosis could lead to cardiac arrest if left untreated.
How Severity Affects You
Once you recover from COVID-19 and no longer exhibit symptoms, you’ll have the energy to exercise again. However, you should remain mindful during your workout, and the way you resume your routine depends on the severity of your symptoms. Regardless of the severity, every athlete diagnosed with COVID-19 should wait until they no longer experience symptoms or receive clearance from a doctor to prevent any potential risks.
Resuming Exercise for Mild Cases
Typically, asymptomatic individuals or those with very mild symptoms don’t have much to worry about. You should give yourself at least two weeks of complete rest, then slowly resume your workout. So, if you normally do a lot of cardio, begin by walking and then jogging. By gradually increasing the difficulty, you give your body time to respond.
Resuming Exercise for Severe Cases
COVID-19 affects everyone differently, and if you were hospitalized or otherwise suffered severe symptoms, you might have to rest for at least three months so your body can repair itself. Additionally, many experts recommend that athletes get a cardiac evaluation and exercise test to ensure there are no heart complications, such as myocarditis.
Safely Resuming Exercise
Whether your case is mild or severe, once you leap back into the world of fitness, you should take your time. In fact, many recommend working in phases. Spend the first two weeks preparing your body; focus on stretching and walking. As time goes on, you can extend the length of your walk by around 10 minutes.
After two weeks, if you feel ready, add in some moderate aerobic activity and resistance training. Then, continue to gradually increase the difficulty of your workout for around a month so you can build your stamina.
As you do this, remember to listen to your body. If something feels difficult or straining, it’s time for a break. You should also note that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, as some athletes may recover faster than others.
Set Attainable Goals
The workout goals you previously had are no longer feasible, so they’ll have to go on the back burner for a little while. Pushing yourself too hard early on could regress your recovery or lead to other issues, as some experts believe this could even lead to myocarditis or other cardiovascular problems.
Create objectives you can safely meet, like going for a 10-minute walk outside. As you do this, focus on how you feel. Are you tired? Does a brief walk feel strenuous? If so, that means you need to slow things down. Consider focusing on light yoga for a few days, then give walking another try.
Signs You Need To Stop
Listening to your body can be a bit of a challenge. You should take a break and see a medical professional if you experience any of the following symptoms while resuming exercise:
- Pain or tightness of the chest
- Difficulty breathing
All of these are bodily signs that something’s wrong, so pushing yourself could be dangerous. Understand that COVID-19 will make you feel weaker since it impacts the respiratory system and your heart. Pushing your body too hard could set back recovery.
If you need an extra rest day or two, that’s perfectly fine. However, you shouldn’t feel obligated to work out or make up for those additional rest days. After a day or two off, continue slowly progressing your workout routine. Your strength will get back to where it was if you take your time.
Visit a Specialist
If you need further advice on post-COVID recovery and how to get back to exercising safely, make an appointment with a specialist. Sports medicine doctors have a thorough understanding of athletic health and can get you moving in the right direction. Additionally, they realize that fitness is a key part of your life, but health always comes first.
ProAm is a sports medicine clinic that offers sports physicals in Las Vegas, plus orthopedic surgery, injury treatment, physical therapy, and more. Since COVID-19 can impact an athlete’s health and training routine, we also offer COVID-19 testing and can help you get back to training after recovering from the virus. We’ve partnered with a proprietary tech platform and Thermo Fisher to ensure efficient testing for the virus.
Safely rebuilding your strength after recovery is essential, and with a professional, you can get advice on proper exercise and nutrition. With a professional at your side, you’ll have the perfect training program to get back into peak condition.