Should you really exercise if you are Covid-19 positive?

Published on: 3 February 2022, 08:00 am IST

Well, it's a million-dollar question because there are two schools of thought on exercising during Covid-19 infection. That’s why we got in touch with a fitness expert to know the whole truth. Come, let’s find out!

Exercise during Covid-19 infection – yay or nay? Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Most of you, especially the fitness junkies out there, might wonder what’s
wrong in exercising during Covid-19, especially if you are not severely infected. But we need to think twice before we make this statement, because it’s a known fact that not taking enough rest during Covid-19 can have major long-term repercussions.

So, let’s understand whether exercising is a good idea if you are Covid positive.

Covid infection isn’t the same for everyone

One thing with Covid-19 is that the side effects are not the same for everyone, and an estimated 40% of those who are positive will never show any symptoms at all.

omicron
Covid-19 will stay, but you have to be supremely cautious. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

So what to do if you are Covid positive? First thing is to self-quarantine, regardless of the fact that you are fully vaccinated. That’s because if you step out, you are more likely to pass on the virus to others, even if you are asymptomatic. This holds true, especially with the widespread rise of the new Omicron variant.

Now, can you work out while in self-quarantine?

Experts recommend that Covid-19 patients with and without symptoms should take it easy for at least 1 week after testing positive

It is physically possible to partake in exercise with Covid and there is minimal risk. Some people may be asymptomatic and not affected at all. However, they should remain aware that this is a virus that does attack the respiratory system. Doing exercise could potentially leave you feeling out of breath or feeling tired much quicker than usual. Even if you’re feeling physically fine!

“Ultimately, everyone will experience Covid differently. However, Covid attacks the same areas of the body and so even if you’re fighting fit with zero symptoms, chances are doing exercise will cause you to feel tired and worse than when you started. Your body really needs rest as it is trying to fight this illness,” says Mukul Nagpaul, a known fitness trainer.

Exercises that you may opt for if you feel fine

If a patient is feeling up for it, a light walk outside is fine as long as they stay away from other people, so as not to infect them. Light to moderate exercise — a brisk walk at most — may even be beneficial for people with mild respiratory symptoms like a cough. But anything more strenuous than a power walk could actually make the infection worse, even for patients with mild symptoms.

long Covid
Covid-19 can leave you with long-term side effects. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

More intense exercise should be avoided during coronavirus infection, even if symptoms are mild, as higher-intensity exercise can temporarily reduce immune function, which would not help one combat the virus.

“As you recover, go a bit slower when returning to exercise,” suggests Mukul.

You don’t want to go from doing anything to all of a sudden start running and doing HIIT workouts and things like that. This is a slow return to exercise, both in terms of duration and in terms of intensity.

People who experienced Covid-19 symptoms should wait at least a week after recovering to resume exercise, and they may want to speak with a doctor first.
With current recommendations for social distancing around Covid-19, you may want to consider skipping the gym and taking your workout outdoors. Regardless of where you exercise ― at a gym or at home ― don’t forget to wipe off equipment, including bikes, weights, benches, and yoga mats.

And make sure you are saying attuned to your body’s need for fluid.

Exercise guidelines call for 150 minutes of exercise a week

“It’s important that people don’t push through symptoms and do give themselves plenty of time to recover. Otherwise, they might not notice their bodies telling them something is wrong. Some people with Covid-19 — as many as one in every five hospitalized patients — go on to develop myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that can cause fatal damage. This inflammation can persist after Covid-19 symptoms resolve,” says Mukul.

exercise during covid
Yoga can bring you relief if you have Covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Most people with myocarditis will experience symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, or shortness of breath with light exertion. So if you start your first power walk and feel like something is amiss, stop exercising and seek a doctor’s advice as soon as possible.

So, don’t just go crazy, if you have been infected by Covid-19. Remember, being slow and steady is the key.

Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.

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