Exercising after Recovering from Coronavirus: How to Do it Safely

A physician shares how to get back to your fitness level before the coronavirus.

Resting and taking it easy is important when you’re sick. When I had COVID-19, the fatigue was so intense and lasted long after the worst symptoms subsided. And for a solid two weeks after my first symptoms, my energy was so low, almost anything could make me feel completely wiped. But even when I started to feel better, I wasn’t sure when it was OK to workout again. I had so many questions like: Would working out make me feel bad again? Will my energy be gone for the rest of the day? What kind of workout should I do?

And it turns out there’s a reason why you may feel rundown and tired even after you’ve recovered from the virus, like I did — inflammation

“When your body goes through any type of illness, particularly something as trying as COVID-19, it ultimately comes away weak and rundown, even after your body has successfully cleared the virus,” says Dr. Christopher Coller, a physician at Parsley Health. “That’s because infections cause an inflammatory response in the body. Cytokines, small proteins secreted by cells in the immune system, and other inflammatory molecules become elevated to fight the infection. This increased inflammation can lead to post-viral fatigue, lethargy, difficulty concentrating and sleep changes.”

Now that I’m a few weeks into recovery, getting back into a fitness routine is still a work in progress. But as Dr. Coller points out, getting back into an exercise routine is important for your health, and can even help you recover faster. But it’s important to do so safely, and not to do too much too soon.

When is it OK to workout again after COVID-19?

Before you consider exercise, Dr. Coller says to make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep first (at least eight hours or more) and have re-regulated your sleep patterns, which often get disrupted when you are sick, to help facilitate recovery. “When you sleep, your brain releases hormones that encourage tissue repair,” Dr. Coller says. “During certain hours, like between 2 and 4 a.m., your body’s rate of cellular turnover while sleeping triples — literally accelerating the body’s much needed recovery.”

Then, you want to be sure that your body has cleared the virus and you no longer have symptoms. You should also talk to your own health care provider if you have concerns or are not sure if you are recovered. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recovery means:

  •  You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (without the use of fever reducers), and
  •  All other symptoms have improved such as cough, or shortness of breath, and
  •  At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms started

So exactly how long will it take for you to recover fully? This is personal and depends on how severe your symptoms were, but there are few ways to know you may be ready to try exercise again.


One thought on “Exercising after Recovering from Coronavirus: How to Do it Safely”

  • Marina Stahsi
    Marina Stahsi
    15. October 2020 Reply

    I remembered that during symptoms i had problem with breathing and i feel so weird and borind and tired together

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