Getting Back To Fitness After Coronavirus

May 25, 2021

 The Coronavirus pandemic has hit us all hard. It does not matter where in the world you are from, how rich you are, how famous you are - the pandemic will have affected your life in one form or another. One thing it has impacted on significantly is people’s level of fitness, and that can take some coming back from.

For some people, the lockdowns were a chance to relax a little and almost retreat into a form of hibernation. Of course, this has led to more comfort food being eaten, endless loaves of banana bread and sourdough bread being baked, and a chance to relax an otherwise usually healthy diet for a while. It has also meant that those who would be hitting the gym every day, attending exercise classes, and going for runs have been stuck inside, leading to a big decline in their levels of fitness.

And then, of course, we have those who have been unfortunate enough to have caught the virus. Whether they have been ‘lucky’ enough to have experienced a mild case or have been really unwell with it, it will have almost undoubtedly have affected their long-term fitness. After all, the media is full of reports of people who are suffering from long covid. 

Advice from researchers suggests a 50/30/20/10 rule when it comes to exercising again. Reduce the normal exercise load by at least 50% for the first week, then by 30%, 20%, and 10% in the following three weeks if comfortable at the end of each period. That would mean taking at least a month to return to a pre-COVID-19 exercise routine.

However Coronavirus has affected your fitness, here, we look at some tips to help you build it back up so you are fighting fit once again.

Image via Unsplash CC0 License

Ask for support from a medical professional before you start any exercise program

The first piece of advice is to seek help from a trained, supervised healthcare professional whenever possible. Working with a professional will help you heal as quickly as possible from the virus and make sure you are ready to start improving your fitness once again.  Coronavirus has similar effects on the cardiovascular system and lungs to those seen in other, more well-known conditions, despite the fact that we are still learning about the precise and lasting effects on the body. 

Some individuals are only moderately impaired and recover easily, while others are seriously afflicted and have long-term problems – a disorder known as Long Covid. Its symptoms differ from person to person. People of all ages, with or without pre-existing health conditions, may be affected. Long Covid is wreaking havoc on even the healthiest, most active people.

Some of the symptoms of long covid include:

  • Fatigue

  • Breathlessness

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Heart palpitations

  • Chest pains

  • Joint and muscle pains

  • Brain fog - not being able to think and focus clearly

  • Loss of smell and taste

  • Dizziness

  • Fever

  • Headaches

Lond covid is now a recognized illness and if you are experiencing signs of it, it is important that you talk to your doctor before doing anything. 

Reset your expectations

If you have been hit by covid, you may have some damage to both your cardiovascular system and your lungs. Not only that, but if you have been in hospital for extended periods of time, or have had to spend a significant amount of time in bed, you may have lost some of your muscular and joint strength.

Before covid, you may have been super healthy and active, not thinking anything about going for a brisk stroll or kicking a football about in the yard with the kids. However, things may well have changed and what you took for granted originally may be significantly more challenging now. Try not to get disheartened by that and reset your expectations. Take each win as it comes and build them up slowly.

Do not expect your progress to be linear

Whatever we do, we all have good days and bad days. The same is true when it comes to healing. There will be days when you feel fine when exercising is easier, and when climbing the stairs at home does not seem so difficult, when you can easily do a few miles on the treadmill. The next day just getting out of bed or taking a shower can completely wipe you out. When it comes to recovering from illness and regaining fitness, the journey will never be linear. You may go forward ten steps and then backward three. Do not be discouraged by the days when things are not going as you hoped - take it in your stride and listen to your body. Push it when it lets you, but rest when you need to. 

Focus on your mental well being as well as your physical well being

Your mental wellbeing is crucial when recovering from covid. You may well have gone through a traumatic experience, particularly if you have been hospitalized. Making sure you look after yourself by getting plenty of sleep, fresh air, and natural vitamin D. Self care should be a big thing in order to ensure that your mental health has been taken care of as well as physical health. If you are experiencing any signs of trauma or mental discomfort because of what you have been through, it is vital that you reach out and talk to someone. This can be your friends or family, or a professional. If you need to take medication or attend counseling to help you get back onto an even keel, do it - there is no shame whatsoever in seeking help for your mental well being. 

Think about your breathing

Coronavirus is a predominately respiratory disease, leaving many sufferers struggling to breathe properly. When you are working on building your fitness levels back up, your breathing is something that you should be thinking about. Even when sitting still and resting, focus on taking deep and meaningful breaths. When exercising, look for low impact exercises that force you to think about the way that you breathe. For example, aerobic steps are great for low impact workout. The more oxygen that you can get into your lungs, the more will travel around your body and make you feel stronger and more energized.

Eat well and stay hydrated

With the coronavirus, some people experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and a lack of appetite. Before trying to exercise, it is important to replenish the energy and fluid levels. Make sure you eat well and stay hydrated so you can move and heal effectively.

Do not pressure yourself and listen to your body

Consider the healing period after covid to be a marathon rather than a sprint. It is important to relieve yourself of stress and give yourself a break. It can be very frustrating not to be able to do the things you want and could do before you became unwell, but recovery can take a long time. Your health and fitness will return, but you must allow the process time to work.  Some simple stretching and mobility work can improve blood flow, help improve posture and reduce tension. Listen to your body too, if it needs some rest, allow it to rest, and do not be hard on yourself for doing so.

How do you know when to stop?

When you get moving again, pay careful attention to your body.  When your energy returns and your recovery progresses, you will be able to gradually increase the strength of your workouts. If you start to feel unwell after exercise, you may be a member of the ‘too hard, too fast' club. Reduce the intensity or take a break, and make sure you are having enough rest, fluids, and food.

If you were using a fitness tracker or heart rate monitor before Covid, it might be useful to use it now.

If you encounter any of the following symptoms while exercising, you should stop and seek medical advice:

  • chest pain or tightness

  • heart palpitations

  • shortness of breath on minimal activity

  • dizziness

  • fainting

Your body is probably still struggling with inflammation in your lungs and other tissues even after symptoms have subsided.

While exercise is always beneficial to your wellbeing, you must be careful not to push yourself too hard, too fast. As a result, your healing may be slowed or your symptoms may worsen as a result of increased inflammation in the body.

Talk to your doctor if you are worried that your energy levels or breathing are not improving over time, particularly if your ability to complete simple daily tasks is being hindered.

*contributed post*

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