Returning to Sports and Working Out After COVID- 19 – Sports Medicine Weekly | Dr. Brian J. Cole
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Practice Policy Update regarding COVID-19

Published on: 06-Jul-2021

Once you get tested positive for COVID-19, there is no escape from spending at least the next 10 days stuck at home. It does not matter whether you live in Scottsdale AZ, New York, or San Francisco. Quarantine is a must. 

While it might sound like a blessing for introverts, if you are an athlete or a person who loves exercising, those 10 days do seem like an eternity. If that is the case, it is only natural that you want to return to physical activity as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Even if your illness was mild, returning to exercise might take longer than you expect. That is because the medical world is still not entirely sure how severe the long-term effects of COVID-19 on one’s body and health can be.

Keep in mind that we have been living in the COVID-19 pandemic world for merely one and a half years, which means doctors cannot be a hundred percent certain how risky returning to physical activity is after recovering from the coronavirus infection.

Because of that, there is a sort of an impasse regarding what the actual guidelines should look like. Still, there are certain practices that you should keep in mind when returning to exercise after COVID-19.

Effects of the COVID-19 Infection on Your Body

Before we get to the bottom of the problem, it is worth examining what we already know about the potential long-term impact of the coronavirus on one’s health. However, keep in mind that the world of sports medicine is still not sure how they might affect someone’s return to exercise.

Some doctors claim that it could be impossible to return to full fitness after recovering from the coronavirus infection. Others believe that it is possible, although it should not be rushed. It all depends on the severity of your symptoms, which can include:

  • Cardiovascular system: arrhythmia, myocarditis, systemic inflammation, acute myocardial injury;
  • Pulmonary system: shortness of breath, low carbon monoxide diffusion capacity;
  • Musculoskeletal implications: joint and muscle pain, loss of bone mineral density.

Gradual Return to Physical Activity

As a rule of thumb, you should take things slow when returning to your workout routine. And while it might be frustrating at first, especially for athletes, tackling the recovery process one step at a time is the best way to rebuild your fitness without damaging your health. We recommend dividing your return into 5 steps!

STEP 1 – Diagnosis & Recovery

10 days after your positive test, you will feel itchy to get right back at it. However, before you start exercising again, the best thing to do is to consult your doctor. They will provide you with medical advice and guidance regarding your workouts’ intensity. 

Keep in mind that the decision of whether you should return to regular exercise will depend on how severe your illness was. If your Covid-19 infection was almost asymptomatic, you should be able to return to your workouts faster. Still, it would be best if you contacted your physician before making any rash decisions.

STEP 2 – Light Exercise

Once your doctor gives you the green light, you can start with light exercises. At first, try jogging, walking, or stationary biking. Keep those activities short and control their intensity. Two days a week for 15 minutes should be enough to show you how long it will take to get back to your workout routine. 

You should keep an eye on any worrying symptoms, such as chest pain. Monitor your heart rate, breathing, and let your healthcare provider know if you notice anything suspicious.

STEP 3 – Light to Moderate Workouts

The next stage is getting back to moderate workouts, like running drills, circuit training, or bodyweight resistance. Again, do not make them too intense or long. Start with exercising once a week for 30 minutes and then slowly increase their number and intensity.

STEP 4 – Moderate to Intense Exercise

During this stage, active athletes can slowly return to their normal training routine. Of course, that is the case if you did not notice anything worrying during the first three stages. Do not go too far yet, though. Work out two to three times a week for no more than 60 minutes.

STEP 5 – Return to Normal Training Routine

The final stage is returning to your normal training routine. However, before you do so, we recommend checking up with your physician once again. They will tell you if there is any risk involved in you getting back to fully intense workouts.

Final Note

Returning to working out and sports after going through COVID-19 can be a very daunting process. You should prepare for weeks of hard work before you fully recover, and even then, you cannot be truly sure whether you got back to your pre-covid fitness.

Our recommendation would be to be patient and work with your primary care provider. Do not rush, as you risk damaging your health severely. Moreover, remember to monitor your symptoms throughout the process and contact your physician as soon as you notice weird and worrying abnormalities. Good luck and stay safe!

The post Returning to Sports and Working Out After COVID- 19 appeared first on Sports Medicine Weekly .