It’s been over two years since the world was introduced to Covid-19 and many of us have now contracted it or know someone who has. Symptoms can vary greatly and so can recovery times. Those who’ve had a period of inactivity due to Covid-19 infection can find it difficult to regain their baseline physical function. This article will highlight an example of a phased approach to help guide return to baseline physical activity after recovery from Covid-19 beginning after at least 7 days without symptoms.
Phase 1: start with extremely light intensity exercise such as stretching and breathing exercises to help loosen your muscles, joints and expand your lungs.
Phase 2: progress to light intensity activity and exercise such as gardening, walking, light yoga and/or strengthening exercises. You should be able to easily hold a full conversation during activity at this level of intensity.
Phase 3: progress to moderate intensity activities (depending on pre-covid functional level), individualized to your personal medical history. This can include intervals of brisk walking, jogging, going up/down stairs or cycling separated by a rest period. Moderate intensity should not feel hard and you should be able to hold a conversation without being out of breath during exercise. Continue your progression to phase 4 by adding more intervals of moderate intensity exercise throughout the week.
Phase 4: this phase is where you can introduce more complex exercise (depending on your pre-covid level) such as jogging with direction changes, walking on more challenging terrain, side-stepping and circuit training strengthening exercises. Once phase 4 is complete, resumption of baseline physical activity should be appropriate.
It’s suggested that each phase should last at least one week, with progression from one phase to the next based on how you are feeling. You should only progress with exercise if you feel recovered from the previous day with no new onset, or return, of any symptoms new or old.
This above phased exercise guideline is an example only and is not intended to replace specific individualized medical advice from your medical professional. Consult a qualified medical professional if you have any questions or concerns before engaging in physical activity. If you experience abnormal heart rate, abnormal shortness of breath, fatigue, lethargy, post-exertion malaise, mental health difficulties or cognitive dysfunction at rest or with exercise it’s advised you consult a qualified medical professional. If these symptoms persist 8-12 weeks or more after Covid-19 infection and can’t be explained by any other diagnosis, you may be experiencing what's known as Long-Covid and you should consult a qualified medical professional. Keep an eye out for our next editorial in the James Bay Beacon for a deeper look into Long-Covid.
BMJ 2021;372:m4721 http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4721