Physical exercise after COVID-19 – Self Defense Blog

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If you have just recovered from COVID-19 and the doctor authorizes you to exercise again, we have to take into account different factors before returning to the usual routine.

What is COVID-19?

The coronavirus is a family of viruses in which seven variants cause disease in humans. The most notable coronaviruses are severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) found in 2002 in China. In 2019, a new variant of coronavirus emerged called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

The virus created signs and symptoms similar to those of SARS, prompting the initial creation of the name SARS-CoV-2 (CDC, 2021). In early 2020, the name changed to COVID-19, which is the most used so far. Therefore, SARS-CoV-2 is the virus and COVID-19 is the disease that causes the signs and symptoms that people experience (for example, respiratory problems) when they suffer from the disease.

Long-term effects of COVID-19

Most people who contract COVID-19 recover within two weeks with few or no symptoms (CDC, 2021). However, people with multiple conditions are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19.

Different risk factors include diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, severe hypertension, chronic gastrointestinal and kidney disease, and sickle cell disease. Smoking and pregnancy are also risk factors (Ejaz et al., 2020).

Researchers have found that 80% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 experienced at least one persistent symptom six months after recovering (López-León et al., 2021).

The five most common long-term complications include (Lopez-Leon et al., 2021):

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Attention disorder
  • Difficulty breathing

Other common long-term complications may include, but are not limited to, cough, chest pain, intermittent fever, musculoskeletal pain, and heart palpitations (CDC, 2021).

Exercise Recommendations After COVID-19

Research has offered exercise recommendations, post-COVID-19.

A correct recommended programming is to use the principle of (Burnet et al., 2019):

  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Weather
  • Guy

For athletes with a low to moderate exercise capacity, it is advisable to introduce aerobic training, strength-resistance training and flexibility (Sheehy, 2020).

In these cases we may have a limited exercise capacity due to the state of health after COVID-19 or if we have suffered the disease seriously.

Recommendations to start physical activity table COVID-19 (Sheehy, 2020)

Frequency: 2 to 4 days of training. Progress in days as training is tolerated.


  • Aerobic exercise: Light to moderate intensity exercise (40-60% of maximum work capacity, RPE 3-4 / 1-10 scale).
  • Strength: Start with 1 series of 12-20 repetitions with progression in number of series, according to tolerance.
  • Flexibility: According to tolerance. Stretch and foam roller, painless.

Weather: 20-50 minute exercise sessions each training day.

Guy: Clients have to participate in activities and programs of low intensity aerobic exercise and high resistance training at low intensities.

(RPE = perceived exertion)

The fun component can be of great help in the early stages of training, and directed activities can create an optimal motivational environment.

Benefits of regular exercise

The importance of regular exercise and good habits is directly related to immune function (Butler, 2020).

People who are inactive (less than 10 minutes per week of exercise) are at increased risk of hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, and death from COVID-19. More active people have fewer risk factors (Sallis et al., 2021).

This emerging evidence supports the idea that physical activity is essential for the health and well-being of people in general and especially for those who have suffered a serious illness such as COVID-19.

Benefits of regular exercise, after COVID-19

a) Improve the function of the immune system.

b) Reduced risk of chronic diseases (eg, cardiovascular disease)

c) Improve mental health

d) Reduced risk of metabolic diseases (eg, diabetes)

e) Improved cardiovascular function

f) Maintenance of musculoskeletal strength

g) Prevention of excessive weight gain.

h) Maintenance of joint mobility and soft tissue flexibility.

Jordi Notario

Codirector DIR OUTDOOR

Schedules Outdoor activities