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  • Writer's pictureMary Brooking

Returning to activity post COVID?

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

Take it slowly, more slowly than you think. For some people returning to exercise too soon can prolong recovery time.

If you had COVID which felt like in any way flu-like, including involving a fever, guideline is to return to sport 7 days after your last symptom, meaning you may have about 2 weeks out from all activity. If your COVID felt more cold-like then return cautiously after all your symptoms have finished. If your COVID was severe, involved hospitalisation or had any impact on your heart you should consult your doctor before returning to exercise.

When you return reduce your volume from your previous training level by at least 50% in the first week back, 30% in week 2, 20% in week 3 and 10% in week 4. This applies even if your COVID was asymptomatic.

Return with low intensity activity and slowly build back up to higher intensity activity. You may feel more fatigued, more breathless, or that you have a higher heart rate than you did for equivalent exercise pre-COVID. Listen to your body and dial back the intensity in a session if this is the case, and slow down the increase the amount of exercise you are doing.. If you feel chest pain or tightness, unusual shortness of breath or heart palpitations you should see your doctor.

Expect it may take 6-8 weeks to feel back to normal.

You should continue to feel better every few days. If you start to feel more breathless, or if you feel you are plateauing and making no improvement then you should get in touch with your doctor.

Returning gradually can reduce the risk of post covid injuries due to returning with high intensity activities after a period with little or no activity.

Consensus is that post covid joint stiffness is most often caused by a lack of activity during illness or isolation and returning to low intensity activity is helpful.

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