Lingering symptoms can make your return to training tougher than expected. Fear not. Our experts have your booster shot but there's no masking that this may take a little time.
After the red test line fades, you might still find yourself feeling… not quite right. The time it takes to recover is highly individual, says John Dickinson, respiratory specialist at CHHP. Some return to baseline quickly, while others experience symptoms such as fatigue, chest pain and brain fog for months after the infection has gone. But between the extremes there’s also a vast middle ground.
Some people find themselves unusually breathless post-Covid, whether that’s at the gym or simply after taking the stairs. A few patients have ‘an issue with the blood- gas barrier’, says Professor Dickinson, which makes oxygen exchange difficult. Others develop a poor breathing pattern. Practise breathing deeply, ‘allowing the ribcage to come up and forwards’, rather than taking shallow breaths.
Read The Beat
If you tracked your heart rate pre-Covid, it’s worth taking note of changes. If your resting heart rate is 10 to 15 beats higher than it was, scale down your workouts and start slow. ‘If it’s looking fine on a brisk walk, then a couple of days later try a walk-run,’ says Rebecca Robinson, sport and exercise consultant at CHHP. If you’re fatigued the next day after training, that’s a cue to ease up.
Easy Does It
When you’ve been stuck at home in front of Netflix for the past week or so, it’s natural to want to make up for lost gym time. But be cautious. ‘Make sure you’re not experiencing chest pain,’ says Dr Robinson. Some people who catch Covid develop inflammation around the heart, or a chesty cough. Those symptoms need to settle before you can start hammering out dumbbell circuits at your usual rate.
As well as reducing mid-workout breathlessness, diaphragmatic breathing exercises can benefit the nervous system, says Dr Robinson. Practise daily. She also recommends Pilates and mobility work to restore range of motion after a week on the sofa. ‘And staying hydrated is very important – that helps the lungs,’ she adds. Build back slowly and you’ll build back stronger.
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