2020 was a different year altogether. It was a year of chasing bigger and more aggressive fitness goals, while for others, it was a time of recovering from the dreaded COVID-19. If you contracted the COVID-19 virus, you would know that the coronavirus can change your body even in its mildest form. And since it is a relatively new disease for medical science, there are still many questions about what happens to the body after the infection? Moreover, when should you start exercising if you had contracted the virus?
This post shares guidelines about when and how to get started with exercise and get in shape after you have recovered from COVID-19. But let’s start by looking at how the coronavirus affects your body.
Viruses, in general, work by taking control of the body cells. They enter the body cells and multiply and continue to spread throughout the body. Coronavirus is not an exception. Typically, coronaviruses affect the respiratory system that causes symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath. However, it can have other more severe implications, especially for people with other serious illnesses.
Effects on Your Lungs
The coronavirus can affect the receptors in both your upper and lower respiratory tract. As a result, it causes symptoms similar to common colds, such as runny nose and cough. Moreover, since it can affect the lower respiratory tract receptors, it can trigger inflammation in your lungs.
As the body tries to combat the virus, it sets the stage for pneumonia. It is also possible that the inflammation can persist and lead to lung fibrosis (hardening of the lung tissue). Since it affects the ability of the lungs to function effectively, coronavirus can be deadly.
Effects on Your Heart
COVID-19 does not spare your heart either. Early evidence indicates that up to 1 in 5 patients with COVID-19 have signs of cardiac injury (regardless of whether they had mild or more severe symptoms of COVID-19). The impact is worst among people who get more severe symptoms of COVID-19 and may have to deal with myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). Moreover, people with preexisting medical conditions (such as diabetes or blood disorders) are more likely to succumb to the effects of low oxygen levels, unstable blood pressure, and abnormal ability of the blood to clot.
Even in patients with no prior history of cardiac conditions or blood disorders, COVID-19 can lead to some form of heart injury.
Getting in Shape After COVID-19
Now that you know how COVID-19 may affect your body’s two most critical organs let’s look at how you can get in shape as you recover from the coronavirus infection.
Discuss With Your Healthcare Provider
As you get started with a physical workout, it is always best to discuss it with your primary healthcare provider, even if you had mild symptoms of the disease and did not require hospitalization.
A Gradual Start
Returning to normal life after the coronavirus infection is a gradual process. You may continue to experience the infection’s undesirable symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, breathlessness, muscle, and joint pain even after getting tested negative. As a result, it can make it difficult for you to perform your everyday tasks, including exercise.
In such unusual circumstances, it is always best to take a gradual start. Listen to your body and prioritize your health above all.
As you plan to get in shape after COVID-19, go for 5-10 minutes of low-intensity workouts. You can start with walk twice a week, and in the weeks following the recovery, you can gradually increase the duration, intensity, and frequency.
Again, you need to listen to your body and discuss everything regarding your health with your doctor.
COVID-19 is Different From Other Illnesses
COVID-19 is unusual, and we still have limited information about how the virus affects the human body. In case of an infection, every person’s body responds differently. Two people having the same symptoms can take different times to recover from the infection. Moreover, how they feel after recovering will also be different.
So while staying active is a great thing for your health in general and recovering from COVID-19, remember that it is different from all other known illnesses. Your body may respond unusually as you get started with a fitness regime following the COVID-19 infection.
A Word of Caution
It is best to keep moving throughout the day for people who experienced any blood-related symptoms as it reduces the risk of blood clots. Moreover, if you experienced severe respiratory symptoms like pneumonia, it is best to give your body at least ten days following the recovery to get started with a workout routine. Furthermore, even when you begin (gradually), continue to monitor both your heart rate as well as oxygen saturation. The minute you start feeling breathless or you experience heaviness in your chest, stop right away.
Lastly, suppose you have been suffering from cardiac issues and were recently infected by the virus. In that case, it is best to wait for 2-3 weeks before returning to any form of physical exercise. But if you experienced the usual gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea and diarrhea) and fatigue, you can slowly return to your normal workout routine. Make sure you eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids, so your body stays hydrated.
If you develop palpitations, chest pain, or shortness of breath in any of the above cases, immediately see a doctor.
Let’s Get Moving
COVID-19 is still an unusual virus with varying effects on the human body. For some, it can hamper their ability to perform everyday tasks such as a shower or getting groceries, while others experience cardiac problems that were previously non-existent. Regardless of how the coronavirus has affected you, you can still get in shape.
All you have to do is give yourself enough time to recover before you start any physical activity. Moreover, don’t forget to discuss your physical activity plan with your doctor. And once you get the approval, continue to listen to your body. Immediately stop any physical activity if you experience any unusual symptoms, and consult your primary healthcare provider!