COVID-19 and Return to Exercise

Even after mild suspected covid-19, a majority of people experience a prolonged recovery, particularly when trying to return to exercise.

What is clear is that severe COVID-19 is known to be a multi-system disorder, potentially compromising several body systems, including the heart and vascular system. Most individuals returning to exercise have a complaint of persisting shortness of breath, which may have a primary respiratory cause, such as pulmonary fibrosis or embolism, rather than a cardiac injury.

For athletes who experienced a mild form COVID-19 illness, it is recommended to refrain from exercise until symptom-free for 7 days and resuming training in a graduated way. The reason for this is a even when fully recovered there may be underlying low grade cardiac issues that could be provoke a health risk if an immediate return to vigorous exercise occurs.

Individuals who had any kind of serious forms of COVID-19 should consult with a cardiologist before any kind of exercise, especially those who experienced any forms of myocarditis. Even then a 3-6 month waiting period may be necessary.

Key take aways:

  • You should wait 7 days before returning to exercise after your last symptoms
  • Do not start with vigorous exercise and instead slowly work up to it over time
  • If you experienced a more serious for of COVID-19 you should consult a cardiologist or doctor before returning to exercise
  • The shortness of breathe you are experiencing may not be related to your lungs but a more serious heart condition

Sources:

Chathuranga Ranasinghe , Cemal Ozemek & Ross Arena (2020): Exercise and well-being during COVID 19 – time to boost your immunity, Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy, DOI: 10.1080/14787210.2020.1794818

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4721 (Published 08 January 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:m4721