Being diagnosed with COVID-19 can send your entire life into a tailspin. Quarantine, reduced activities, and contact tracing for those around you all are possible depending on where you live and work. This places limits on what you can do for days on end, no matter how the virus affects you.
The absolute best-case scenario is that you feel asymptomatic and only need to quarantine until the requisite time passes. In the worst-case scenario, COVID-19 can cause death or other lingering effects, including the risk of permanent damage. The vast majority of cases lie in the middle, being serious enough that you are still operating but at a reduced capacity.
Once you’ve contracted the virus, there is no option but to let it run its course or seek medical attention. Assuming you have a milder case, you may want to keep your daily activities running as smoothly as possible. This includes your workout regimen.
Exercising with COVID-19 depends on various factors; the severity of your case is most essential. Infection is a time to rethink your workout, engage in self-care, and ensure a return to form after recovery.
Below, we review how the virus affects workouts and what to do to safely exercise with COVID-19.
What Does COVID-19 Do To Your Body?
COVID-19 comes in a variety of severities, featuring core symptoms, rare symptoms, and emergency symptoms. The former is seen in most cases; the second is occasionally seen; the latter is the reason for immediate medical attention.
Emergency symptoms include confusion, persistent chest pain, inability to stay awake, severe breathing troubles, and blue-gray skin discoloration. If any of these are present, consult a physician immediately.
Other symptoms are less serious, though still unpleasant. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness resulting in potentially extreme stress in your breathing processes. Coughing and difficulty breathing are standard processes here.
It can also cause a variety of complications that may discourage you from exercising at all. These include nausea, dizziness, severe fatigue, and a pounding heartbeat, among others. Some symptoms resembled an exceptionally intense flu. These can make exercising unpleasant or outright dangerous, depending on the severity.
COVID-19 causes both immediate effects and some that may last for months. None of these effects are good for your body. We’ll answer the specifics of working out under the virus briefly, but the main goal in times of illness should be recovery. Extreme measures taken to prevent injury in the short term are better than injuries caused by overexertion.
Can I Work Out While Suffering From COVID-19?
Yes, you can exercise while you have COVID-19, but you must be sure not to overdo it. Any time you suffer from an illness that even approaches the serious, you want to ease your routine. The same is especially true of COVID-19.
A practical reason is the necessity to quarantine. This restricts your workouts to either being at home or in uncrowded, public places. Unless you have access to a home gym, this can readily rule out many forms of weightlifting.
When analyzing the types of exercises to perform, you need to analyze the way your body reacts to the virus. The disease affects your respiratory system, negatively impacting your oxygen intake. This makes anaerobic exercises dangerous and ineffective.
In anaerobic exercise, the energy consumption of the body exceeds that which oxygen alone can provide. This pushes your body’s cardiovascular system to its limits while relying on stored energy. Though not dangerous in moderation, this is temporarily taxing on the body and requires greater recovery.
Anaerobic activities become challenging when your normal oxygen intake is already compromised. You should avoid high-intensity workouts when exercising with COVID-19. Avoid heavy weightlifting, HIIT exercises, and sprinting.
Dizziness and nausea also provide challenges to athletes. Some exercises, like cycling, can prove hazardous if you accidentally take a fall. Consider the fact that you may find yourself suddenly running out of control in your workouts.
COVID-19 is not transmissible in water, according to CDC guidelines. However, it is still capable of being transmitted through regular interactions. Many private swimming facilities and public pools may disallow or strongly encourage COVID-positive swimmers to stay home. If you have nearby bodies of water, consider a light swim as a good way to get some fresh air.
Whatever you do, hydrate. We’ll next discuss the best exercises to aid recovery.
Exercises To Try While Recovering
COVID-19 workouts should be treated the same way you would treat a workout when recovering. You will likely not be operating at your best, and contagiousness forces you to limit your location. Medical guidelines suggest that your workout should consist of low-intensity exercises aiming to keep you in motion.
Take your regular routines, and adjust their scale. If you run, walk. If you enjoy lifting weights, try bodyweight exercises at a low intensity and comfortable pace for your health. This is the time to take it easy rather than push yourself.
This can also be a time to focus on new routines. Flexibility and breathwork are two essential fitness elements that are often neglected. This can be benchmarks for overall fitness and lead to safer workouts in the long term. Take this time to explore new methods of exercising that may be outside your usual work.
Yoga can be an effective transitional workout for those in all stages of COVID-19 infection and recovery. Countless poses exist in both standing and seated positions, to choose based on your symptoms. These vary in intensity, ideal for pushing your limits without pushing them too far. Bodyweight exercises also naturally carry less risk of injury than free weight training.
Yoga is more than just poses. A key element of any yoga routine contains both physical poses and meditation components. These encourage us to think and become aware of our own breathing, ideal for when that breathwork is compromised. It can also encourage relaxation during stressful and isolating times.
Mental Exercise To Try While Recovering
An exercise closely associated with meditation that can also be beneficial during this time is mindfulness. Unlike the previous workouts, mindfulness is a mental exercise designed to improve all facets of your life. The purpose of mindfulness is to keep us focused on our daily lived reality. It can be easy to run through life on autopilot, especially when physical pain makes people want to ignore it.
Simply focus on the reality around you, whether it be your breathing, comfort food, or a warm blanket. Being totally aware of our surroundings and open to perceiving the world around us lets us access the world authentically. That’s mindfulness.
Returning To Your Workout After COVID-19
Recovering from COVID-19 is not an easy process. Once the infection goes away, it is possible for many effects to linger. When the temperatures drop, the risk of injury or a secondary illness is real if protective steps aren’t taken.
Understand that your post-COVID workouts should be reduced. Some medical experts suggest that you should only exercise at 50 percent intensity seven days after symptom cessation.
Additionally, it is critical to consult a physician for those who have had underlying cardiovascular or pulmonary issues prior to contracting the virus. People who are experiencing dizziness, intense coughing fits, or chest pains are not ready for full workouts.
Needing to take time off is not a sign that you are suddenly out of shape. It is not a sign that you’ll have to work overtime to come back from your losses. Working out after COVID should be treated the same way you’d treat returning from an injury.
Work your way from the ground up. Build from a base level, understanding that returning to where you were will take time. It is possible and likely that some days will be markedly worse than others. We need to take those in stride and know our bodies are doing the best they can.
Always stay hydrated. Proper hydration is vital in illness and athleticism alike, and it’s easier to be under-hydrated than overhydrated.
Be careful of the way you breathe. The yoga and meditation exercises you engage in while sick should give you a newfound appreciation of your breath. Pay attention to what your body is telling you in every given moment, thanks to your mindfulness training. These exercises can mentally prepare you for a more physically productive workout when your body is ready for it.
Keeping Your Routine
In the grand scheme of ways COVID-19 can affect an individual, a deferred exercise regimen is fairly minor. This makes it no less inconvenient, especially when severe cases threaten overall health.
It may put a pause on your plans, but it doesn’t have to be the end of them. There are always accessible ways to keep fit, no matter how light you need to take things. Olivers plans to continue offering everything adventurers, recovering athletes, and serious trainers may ever need.