Dusting off your sweatpants and putting on gym clothes can be a daunting task when recovering from COVID-19.
You may have been inspired by the Commonwealth Games or the warmer weather that is fast approaching.
Here’s what you need to know about getting back into sport, whether it’s a simple park run or 80 minutes of soccer.
When can I start exercising again?
Well it’s not black and white.
Originally, the Australasian College of Exercise Sports Physicians suggested seven to 10 days of rest when you first get the virus, then wait for symptoms to improve before returning to very light exercise.
But since then, following the illness and recovery of the Tokyo Olympians, it’s been found that too long periods of rigorous or relative rest can lead to deconditioning and detraining, says sports GP Tracy Shang.
dr Shang said it’s a fine line to walk.
“In other words, [you could experience] Loss of muscle mass and you may take longer to recover,” she said.
While COVID affected athletes in the same way as the general population, the fitter you were before infection and the sooner you gradually returned to light activity, the more likely you were to recover, said Dr. shang.
But you can’t jump to extremes, and it’s difficult for someone to make that choice themselves.
We’re not all Olympians.
The suggestion is to return to exercise at a low capacity when your symptoms have mostly subsided, but most importantly, listen to your body.
What exercise can I do?
If you have breathing problems, you certainly can’t do a high-end aerobic workout, so don’t set off for a casual marathon, says high-performance strength and conditioning coach Steve Nance.
He said you have to work below your anaerobic threshold most of the time during a workout so you don’t put too much stress on your body.
If an infection has caused heart problems, particularly high blood pressure, use caution with resistance exercise, such as lifting heavy weights, as it can cause your blood pressure to rise.
Mr Nance suggests using common sense.
“You can’t just go back to what you were doing before.
“You have to be very, very careful if you try to aim too high from the start because you’re probably still a bit sick.”
An easy walk, short bike ride, or swim would be a great place to start.
What happens if I press too hard?
The reality is that if you start training too hard too soon, it can take longer for symptoms of COVID-19 to go away, says Dr. shang.
Research from the University of Oxford, which studied 270,000 people who recovered from COVID-19, suggests 10 to 20 percent of people still had at least one of nine symptoms three months after infection.
“It’s not so much that it’s a long COVID, it’s that your symptoms can continue to be a problem,” said Dr. shang.
So take it easy.
What signs should I look out for?
Some of the symptoms that people struggle with after infection include breathing problems, irregular heart rate, fatigue, brain fog, muscle aches, aches and fatigue.
The other thing about COVID is that it is an inflammatory disease that can affect multiple organs.
Some serious warning signs that practitioners look for are pulmonary and cardiac complications that can occur in some people who have had COVID-19.
“You can get muscle inflammation of your heart, which can lead to chest pain that’s unique to exercising,” said Dr. shang.
“It’s something that needs to be monitored more carefully.”
If you experience chest pain or if you are an athlete who is having trouble breathing, seek medical advice and advice.
But if you don’t have these symptoms, just listen to your body and take your time to slowly build your stamina back up, said Dr. shang.
Is it more difficult to return to sport if I have been infected twice?
Unfortunately, some people are still recovering when they become infected again.
Repeat infection has not been shown to be progressively milder, but vaccination and higher baseline fitness appear to reduce the risk of serious illness.
However, that was not the case for Toowoomba athlete Mia Bowen Osmond.
After her second infection, she was unable to return to sport for three weeks.
“The first time was okay… but the second time I just didn’t get any better for three weeks, I couldn’t come to practice or anything.
“I still don’t have my lung capacity.”
Is there anything I can do to help?
Short-term use of paracetamol is recommended for symptomatic relief in initial COVID-19 disease.
Athletes or those with common post-COVID symptoms should speak to their GP or sports physician for assistance in guiding and monitoring a safe return to sport.
Optimizing mental health support, sleep and good nutrition combined with pacing and overdoing are the recommendations, said Dr. shang.
If weeks after infection you feel you have symptoms, you can talk to your GP about visiting a long COVID clinic that has been set up in many state hospitals.
I am nervous!
Uncertainty about how your body will respond to physical activity after COVID infection is unnerving, especially if you were at a high fitness level before the illness.
It can also be disappointing when you don’t feel unwell but your stamina isn’t where it used to be.
“It can be quite a frustrating process and can lead to low mood or lowered self-confidence,” said Dr. shang.
But we all know that post-workout endorphins are worth it.