Friday, July 22, 2022

Is exercising with Covid a good idea?

Although we're (hopefully) moving toward a post-pandemic world, Covid-19 is still prevalent and the risk of catching it remains high. The virus can temporarily turn your life upside down, leaving you feeling thoroughly worse for wear. What’s more, many favored self-care routines are firmly on pause for a week or more, affecting mental health and emotional wellbeing. 

For a lot of people, working out is their favorite form of self-care. But don’t worry — if you’ve been unlucky enough to catch Covid, this article will provide you with everything you need to know about exercising with the virus.

Can you exercise with Covid?

The short answer is yes, you can still exercise if you are affected by Covid, influenza, or other illnesses. However, there are several things to take into account if you plan to do so.

Understand the health risks

Firstly, you may risk harm to yourself if you overexert while suffering with sickness. While nothing is stopping you from doing a home workout, exercise may exacerbate your symptoms and leave you feeling even worse than before. Because Covid predominantly attacks the respiratory system, any strenuous activity can leave you feeling even more breathless and lethargic than you already do.

Check your symptoms

It’s also important to listen to your body — are you experiencing ‘below the neck’ symptoms, such as a cough, chest pain, or breathing problems? If so, this may be your body telling you to rest or focus on other healthy, yet more sedate activities. So, instead of weights, take up something else you enjoy, such as reading, meditation or having a relaxing bath.

If you test positive for Covid but still feel normal, it is still advisable to only exercise with caution as you may not experience symptoms until you’re more breathless. Try experimenting with a short, low-intensity workout and note how you feel. Proceed only if you are well enough and as always, consult your doctor if you have any concerns.

When should you perform strenuous exercise post-Covid?

There are no official recommendations regarding exercising after you’ve had Covid. However, you shouldn’t necessarily treat a negative test as a green flag for any high-intensity activity.

Don’t run before you can walk

For exercising post-Covid, experts advise spending seven days on a ‘phase’ of exercise before you increase the amount you do each week. For example, suppose you have spent the majority of your isolation time resting, your aim should be to slowly reintroduce physical activity into your routine, through activities such as yoga, gardening, or walking. Then, if you feel up to it the following week, you can advance to resistance training or quick bursts of cardiovascular activity, such as swimming or cycling.

Always listen to your body. You may be tempted to leap back up to pre-Covid exercise levels straight away, but be patient — intense exercise after a period of rest can cause more harm than good. Finally, don’t put pressure on yourself — instead, try to understand that each day may be different. Keep in mind how much your body has already gone through and give yourself plenty of time to relax and recover.

What are some tips for exercising with Covid?

If you’re adamant that you’re well enough to work out, follow these tips to help you balance a full recovery with the benefits of exercise.

Exercise in isolation

A gentle reminder: Covid is seriously contagious. Though it might feel like we’re out of the woods, if you test positive for Covid you should still self-isolate to prevent passing the virus on to others in public places, such as the gym.

According to recent data, we emit an enormous 132 times more aerosols (the small droplets that spread through the air when we breathe) during high-intensity exercise than when we’re at rest. Therefore, exercising in a gym or enclosed space should be seriously avoided as it can set off a Covid super spreader — where one contagious person infects many others.

Explore new workouts

Are you a keen gym bunny, pavement pounder, or spin obsessor? If so, such favored exercises are likely to be off the cards right now. However, self-isolation is a good opportunity to discover the array of versatile home workouts that are out there — whether you are an expert, total beginner, or somewhere in between. How about gettin’ funky with an indoor walking session set to ‘70s disco music? Alternatively, try this low-impact full-body program which combines yoga, pilates, and ballet principles to target all major muscle groups. 

If you prefer a group workout, there is an abundance of virtual classes available online to give you back a healthy sense of normality. For example, try a live stream yoga class to enjoy the camaraderie of a social workout.

And as a quick reminder — although these exercises are shorter and lower-intensity than your average gym blast, you should still take care to not overdo them. If you’re struggling, never push yourself to complete the entire exercise set — whether live or via pre-recorded video — when you can always return to it later.

This is a guest blog entry.

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