Exercise is not only important to keep us healthy, but also as a tool to aid rehabilitation after illness. However, if you have previously been inactive, or have underlying health conditions, you should always consult your GP before starting an exercise programme.
Obesity is prevalent in this country, and it has become a major factor in the ability to recover from a diagnosis of Coronavirus. COVID-19 is also associated with cardiac complications and people who have co-existing conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease are at higher risk. Regular exercise has become crucial, but it must be at the correct level and intensity for the individual.
The numbers of people diagnosed with COVID-19 are currently rising through all levels of severity:
- Asymptomatic, but infected.
- Symptomatic, but isolating at home.
- Symptomatic, and admitted to hospital.
- Symptomatic and requiring ventilator support.
Post-COVID people who are asymptomatic will be unaware of the risk of a cardio event when undertaking strenuous physical activity. Those who are unused to exercise should always begin slowly. Walking is one of the best forms of activity. It is relatively risk-free, and intensity can be safely built up over time. People who have mobility issues can consider chair walking, or any form of seated exercise, at home.
Anyone who develops COVID symptoms, sore throat, body aches, chest pains, shortness of breath, general fatigue, coughing and fever, should stop exercising immediately. If there are no further complications, they can re-start very low intensity exercise around three to four weeks after the cessation of those symptoms.
We would recommend a functional assessment by a professional to determine appropriate exercise and intensity. Fitness instructors can provide knowledge and skill in rehabilitation, care and support to improve your quality of life. People who develop a new-onset of breathlessness or chest pain must seek a full medical review.
Apply FITTA principal (see our previous posts), but with the addition of ‘Reversibility’. The message is to start low and build up slowly – stop if you feel unwell.
Blog by Kathleen Turnbull BA Hons MAR FHT CNHC REPs