Return to activity post-Covid

Had Covid?

The breathlessness after running up the stairs, the shortness of breath on what used to be a simple task or struggling to get back in to your sport or activity?

Here’s some guidelines to follow and something to assist with your recovery.

Weeks 1-2 (phases 1 and 2)

Starting after 1 week of having no symptoms, you may begin light intensity exercise at an intensity of 11 on the Borg Scale (image below). This could range from gardening activities to slow, flat walks or even balance, yoga and breathing exercises. The scale is based off a rough heart rate estimate of around 110 beats per minute. Start slow!! It’s recommended you stay within this phase for up to two weeks, adding a maximum of 10-15 minutes each day while maintaining the perceived exertion of your tasks. Keep the intensity from around a 6-8 in week one and gradually increase to 8-11 for week two of this phase.

Phase 3

At this phase you may be able to reintroduce more typical exercise. Keep the demands controlled by initially assessing how you respond to up to 2 bouts of 5 minute intervals (brisk walking, cycling, jogging, swimming) of an activity that you complete pre-illness. Initially starting with an perceived exertion rating of 12-14. Start low and build up. Gradually progress in this phase by adding additional intervals of five minutes while maintaining the intensity and with no adverse effects. If you’re feeling as if you haven’t recovered 1 hour after exercise then do not add additional intervals yet and reduce the intensity of your activity. Take note of how you are feeling the day after exercise and look out for the following….

  • Abnormal breathlessness
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Lethargy

Should you experience these then revert to an early stage of the return to activity guidelines and if symptoms persist then seek medical advice!!

Phase 4

This phase introduces activities that may begin to become more sport specific if you’re planning on returning to this type of activity. This may include agility type exercises, balance and coordination activities, strength and circuit training activities. However, still ensuring you are maintaining a low enough intensity of less than 14 on the scale above!

We recommend you track everything.

  • Your perceived exertion – RPE from the scale above
  • How long you exercises for and what the exercise was
  • How you felt immediately after
  • If you felt as if you had recovered after one hour
  • How you felt the following day
  • Changes in mood, fatigue and energy levels in the hours and days following exercise
  • Potentially even heart rate changes – ensure there are no jumps in your resting heart rate the following day. If there are, take a day off exercise!

The table below highlights some additional details on the process. You can follow the flow diagram to determine the stage and progress or regress where needed.

If you have any questions or require additional advice, assistance or an exercise plan to return to your previous activity levels then please don’t hesitate to contact us –

Remember to take it steady and ensure you get it right, this is not something you can or will want to rush.

More details available –

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