If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid self isolation so far, keep on scrolling (actually, no don’t – this could come in handy!)

If you have… Picture this – you have been cooped up in the house for 10 days, spending most of your time curled up on the sofa or in bed fighting the dreaded COVID-19 virus… but now, you are out of isolation, ready to conquer the world – or maybe you are still feeling pretty fragile.

Either way, you want to get back into some form of exercise, whether you are a beginner runner or semi-pro ultimate frisbee player you might be wondering where on earth to start, or what you need to think about?

Below I’m going to share some of the top tips for how to do this safely:

Tip 1 Be Gradual!

I cannot stress this enough… unfortunately your body doesn’t just hold onto fitness; annoying, right?

Therefore, do not expect to go back to your normal routines of exercise freely without any issues.

So, what do the leaders in the field recommend? Well, Metzl et al., (2020), in Considerations for Return to Exercise Following Mild-to-Moderate COVID-19 in the Recreational Athlete, suggested the following guidelines:

‘An otherwise healthy patient with a self-limited course of COVID-19 who has been asymptomatic for 7 days may begin resuming physical activity at 50% of normal intensity and volume.’

Practically, this means…

Start at half the weight, or half the distance/heart rate zone, or half the intensity, then aim to get your heart rate up gradually.

For a cardio lover, the best way to do that might be on the bike, or perhaps for a weightlifter – starting with normal sets and reps, but half the weight to begin with and gradually increase distance/training intensity from there (usually rule of thumb is increase by 10% a week).

For a dog walker, this may be just taking its slow and taking lots of breaks.

Tip 2 Don’t set the return bar too high

Set yourself SMART goals, to make sure you are being:

  1. (S) specific – with what you want to achieve/get back to.
  2. (M) measured – keep track, so you don’t increase the intensity too quickly.
  3. (A) achievable – make sure you don’t set the bar too high for your energy levels.
  4. (R ) relevant – don’t set a goal of running a marathon if all you really want to do is run 5k 3x a week.
  5. (T) time phased – give yourself mini goals within this at certain time points.

Tip 3 Listen To Your Body

Your body will let you know if something is wrong, so listen to it.

Due to the unknown effects of COVID-19 on the body Upham and Laube MD (2021) in How to Return to Exercise if You’ve Had COVID-19, recommend consulting with your doctor if you’re unsure of anything, before any return to activity (you MUST consult your doctor before returning to physical activity if you have any underlying heart conditions).

So there you have it… Taking these steps should help put the brakes on your body taking on any unwanted niggles and stop you from getting any severe fatigue from overdoing it.

If you have any further questions then do reach out!

Just email hello@instantphysio.co.uk.

Baggish, A., Drezner, J., Kim, J., Martinez, M. and Prutkin, J., 2020. Resurgence of sport in the wake of COVID-19: cardiac considerations in competitive athletes. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 54(19), pp.1130-1131.

(Baggish et al., 2020)

Upham, B. and Laube MD, J., 2021. How to Return to Exercise if You’ve Had COVID-19. [online] EverydayHealth.com. Available at: <https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/when-and-how-should-you-restart-your-workouts-after-having-covid-19/#:~:text=Don’t%20Exercise%20While%20You,10%20days%20before%20resuming%20exercise.> [Accessed 22 January 2022].

(Upham and Laube MD, 2021)

Metzl, J., McElheny, K., Robinson, J., Scott, D., Sutton, K. and Toresdahl, B., 2020. Considerations for Return to Exercise Following Mild-to-Moderate COVID-19 in the Recreational Athlete. HSS Journal ®, 16(S1), pp.102-107.

(Metzl et al., 2020)