Exercise and physical activity are good for our physical and mental health. Getting at least 20 minutes of exercise per day can help improve our mood, decrease our risk for serious medical conditions and strengthen our immune systems. However, exercising while you are sick with COVID-19 or immediately after you’ve recovered can be harmful and potentially dangerous.
Dr. John Breck, lead physician at Medical Services, encourages all university members to review the following information if you plan on exercising after you are COVID-free.
Why is it a good idea to hold off on exercise?
The COVID-19 virus causes inflammation throughout the body, which can cause lung and heart damage, including heart dysfunction and abnormal heart rhythms. The risk of damage is not limited to older adults. Many young adults with COVID-19, including athletes, can also suffer from conditions like myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart muscle). These types of conditions can worsen or create dangerous situations if we over-exercise too soon after recovering from COVID-19.
How do you know when you’re ready to return to exercise?
Avoid strenuous activities and exercise for at least 7 days after your symptoms have completely resolved. Opt for gentle walking only. Before returning to other forms of exercise, you must be able to complete normal daily activities, like doing the dishes, getting dressed and completing basic household chores. You must also be able to walk at least a quarter mile on flat ground without fatigue or breathlessness.
What should you look out for?
Monitor your symptoms and exercise tolerance. Stop if you experience any chest pain, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, abnormal heartbeats, lightheadedness or other symptoms. Never assume you are just out of shape or ignore persistent fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact the Medical Services 24/7 NurseLine to discuss your symptoms with a registered nurse and to determine if you require medical attention. The NurseLine is available to students for free at 303-492-5101.
What if you’re a student athlete?
Consult a healthcare provider if you plan to return to strenuous physical activity, sports or other competition activities. You may need additional health evaluations, a physical or condition testing.