Getting back in shape post-covid: All that you need to know
We are here to take you through the steps of recovering and getting back into your usual workout schedule after having COVID-19 infection.
Our main points are made using the guideline of Michigan Medicine and also our own professional (and personal) experience. Fortunately, we have an amazing tool in our hands to speed up your recovery: EMS!
What’s important to know about returning to sports and physical activity?
Regular exercise is an amazing tool to improve heart health, immune defenses, mental health and many other body systems but exercise during an active infection with COVID-19 may worsen inflammation and can have serious consequences. One of those effects can be damage to the muscle of the heart — and if a damaged heart is stressed by exercise, it can lead to arrhythmias or even heart failure.
In order to get more information about the recommendations you should follow, you have to identify the severity of your symptoms first:
- No Symptoms — You tested positive for COVID-19 but did not have any symptoms.
- Mild Illness — During your COVID-19 illness you had one or more of the following symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, malaise, headache, and muscle pain. You did not have shortness of breath or abnormal chest imaging.
- Moderate Illness — During your COVID-19 illness you had one or more of the following: shortness of breath, abnormal chest imaging, and/or oxygen saturation level of 94% or less. This category also includes:
- People over 65 years of age
- People of any age with significant cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, or kidney disease.
- Severe Illness or Hospitalized — If were admitted to the hospital, or if you had severe respiratory (lung) illness with or without respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ dysfunction
What screening might be needed after you recover from COVID-19?
If you were asymptomatic during your COVID-19 infection, then you shouldn’t exercise for 10 days from the positive test result. You can return to your workout routine paced and gradually with no cardiovascular testing needed.
After mild illness, you can return to exercise 10 days after symptoms started, but only if your symptoms have fully resolved. You can also return to your workout routine paced and gradually with no cardiovascular testing needed.
If you had moderate or severe symptoms, then you should get a clearance from your doctor first. You may need a cardiovascular testing prior to returning to exercise.
How should I start exercising again?
After you completed your rest period, it is important to return to exercise in a step-by-step manner. The guideline of Elliott, Martin and Heron (2020) takes us through the different stages one-by-one. Start with step one and progress to the next level only if you can complete the previous step for a minimum of 1-2 days. If you develop symptoms at any stage (for example: chest pain, heavy breathing, palpitations), stop and contact your doctor.
Step 1: Start slow
You should only do activities of daily living, like walking, laundry or washing dishes for at least 10 days, in order to allow recovery time and protect the cardiorespiratory system.
Step 2: Light activity
You can perform light activites, for example: walking, jogging, stationary bike, with no more than 70% of your maximum heart rate. Resistance training isn’t allowed. You should easily be able to speak in complete sentences during exercise at this level. Exercise for 15 minutes or less, our goal is to increase the heart rate at this stage.
Step 3: Moderate activity
You still perform simple movements at this stage, but they may include running drills You can increase time to 15-30 minutes (but no more than 80% maximum heart rate!). You want to increase load gradually, manage any post viral fatigue symptoms.
Step 4: More complex training activities
The progress is moving on to more complex activities, such as shooting baskets, light weights, yoga, running drills. You get back into exercise coordination and skills, and the duration of the workout can be longer too.
Step 5: Increase the intensity of exercise
Now you can have more intense trainings, such as weight lifting, running, half-court basketball, or swimming up to 60 minutes to restore confidence and assess functional skills.
Step 6: Resume normal workouts
Finally, you can get back to your regular workout routine safely.
EMS is a secret weapon in speeding up your recovery!
Electrical muscle stimulation is well-known of its amazing benefits on your body. Besides quick muscle tone improvement, one of its biggest advantages is that you can improve your endurance very effectively with the technology in a short period of time. EMS improves the muscle pump function, which leads to better circulation and balanced respiration through enhancing the cardiorespiratory system. Although the strong muscle contractions lead to elevated blood pressure, the heart frequency remains significantly lower than in the case of traditional training.
We recommend choosing EMS to speed up your recovery in a gentle way. This way the electric impulses are doing their job and your circulatory system won’t be overwhelmed from the workload.