As you can imagine, this is an evolving area of study so I will keep you updated on the relevant info as it comes to hand as much as possible!
Returning to exercise is an individual experience and needs to be planned. Some people are 100% fine post COVID, but most experience at least one symptom when exercising for 2-6 weeks post infection so it is best to err on the side of caution to prevent long covid or more serious complications such as myocarditis.
The general advice is to start back to exercise very gently, 7-10 days after you have been symptom free. The heart rate to aim for is 60% max heart rate, where you can easily still hold a conversation and include low, light exercises. Providing you are feeling good, build slowly each week, aiming for full return to pre COVID fitness approximately 6 weeks later.
Some symptoms you may encounter during your initial return to exercise are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fatigue and low energy
- Loss of Strength
- Loss of Muscle Mass
- Elevated Heart Rate
Long COVID is experienced in at least 10% of people with symptoms such as coughs lingering for 6 weeks, fatigue and brain fog for 3-6 months
COVID is highly inflammatory and collateral damage is possible to so many organs and bodily systems related to fitness including heart, lungs, muscular skeletal and kidneys.
Muscle loss (atrophy) is observed in most people, and is more than just the result of resting. As muscles are broken down by the illness, the kidneys are placed under stress to deal with filtering the protein by-products.
Water loss has also occurred during illness due to production of mucous and fever so it is very important to drink lots of water both during and post infection, especially when exercising. The advice is to drink 30-40 mls per kilo of body weight per day.
Other recovery nutritional advice includes a low inflammation approach, with a focus on nutritional healing as opposed to supplements:
- Water primarily but can include smoothies and nourishing soups
- Pescatarian for 2-3 weeks post infection, fish/seafood 2 x per week
- Wholegrain carbs
- Nuts and seeds
- 2-3 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit per day
- Legumes, split peas and lentils to improve gut health
- Eggs and full fat dairy for Vitamin D – also seek SUNLIGHT
- Processed foods such as cereals and deep fried
It is important to be flexible and patient, as sometimes there will be setbacks. Listen to your body as you exercise, resting when necessary. Check how you feel one post exercise at one hour, 24 hours and 72 hours. Seek medical advice if you have any concerns.
Finally, please be aware that any exercise could lead to the risk of physical injury.
You should feel good when participating in activities or exercise.
If you experience any extreme pain, shortness of breath or dizziness, stop and seek advice. Following this, activity, and exercise advice, is at your own risk.
You are agreeing to undertake these activities voluntarily and as such assume all risk of injury to yourself.
If you feel unwell before, during or after, stop immediately and seek advice.
FURTHER IMPORTANT READING: ttps://www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk/your-wellbeing/getting-moving-again/