Whether you’re a professional athlete, a Sunday morning jogger or somewhere in between, being forced to stop exercising for a prolonged period can be demoralising. Any kind of illness can knock your fitness regime off course, but contracting a respiratory disease like Covid-19 can mean several weeks of inactivity.
One of the first questions many recovered Covid patients have is ‘how long do I have to wait before I can exercise after Covid’? Luckily, the British Medical Association (BMA) has issued some guidance for doctors on how to advise their patients.
So if you’re desperate to return to your morning run, there are a few simple rules to help you decide when’s a good time.
1. Check your symptoms
The BMA recommends that patients should be symptom free for at least seven days before attempting any form of physical exercise after Covid. As symptoms are quite wide ranging, you may need to use your own discretion, or speak to us, to be sure.
Common Covid symptoms include:
- A persistent cough
- Loss of taste or smell
- A high temperature
If you are still experiencing any of these symptoms, even mildly, now is not the time to up your physical activity.
If you had severe Covid, it is also a good idea to check in with us before hitting the home gym.
2. Take it slowly at first
You might have been able to hit 10K in under an hour pre Covid, but it’s not a great plan to attempt that on your first run after recovery. In fact, the BMA recommends at least two weeks of minimal exertion to begin with.
The very first step, before you even get your running shoes on, is to practice some breathing, strength and balance exercises at home. Try and do this for seven days before you think about taking the next step.
If that has gone well, you may be ready to take the next step and leave the house. Don’t just head off at a sprint though. Even if you consider yourself a cut above the couch to 5K plan, that’s the kind of pace you want to be looking at for the first couple of weeks after getting over Covid.
In fact, the guidance recommends that you just aim for a light to moderate walk for the first week. You’ll be surprised how much even that can take it out of you when you’ve been laid up in bed for a while.
After a week of walking, now is the time to consider a bit of interval training. Again, if you can keep this up for a week, this will give your body time to adjust. At this point, you should be able to start building up the intensity, with the aim of returning to your pre-Covid fitness level.
3. Monitor yourself closely
Keep a close eye on your body and how it is responding to the exercise. It’s normal to feel tired and achy after exerting yourself, but if you’re feeling exhausted or struggling to breathe at any point, then take a break for a few days.
The main take away point we would advise is to ‘listen to your body’.
If you do have any concerns about your body’s response to a return to physical activity, it might be sensible to contact us, for a check-up, to ensure that your recovery is developing as it should.