Having battled the coronavirus and emerged victorious after finally testing “negative”, it is important to remember that your war is not over yet. Getting back to normalcy after Covid is a very delicate and vital process. Just as every person infected would have shown different symptoms during the virus, every person recovered would show different post-recovery symptoms that can linger on for a while. Consider taking a break of two-three weeks before returning to any form of an exercise regime.
After adequate rest, if you are thinking of getting back to exercise, it is highly advisable to consult your doctor about your physical condition and get a “go-ahead’ before you start any fitness activity. Once you have your doctor/physician’s consent keep in mind the following when getting back to exercising post recovery.
Start Slow: Any serious ailment takes a toll on your body, and recovery is all about regaining the lost strength. However in this process of regaining we must remember that we cannot recover all the strength at once. Exercising must aim at gradually getting there. Start with exercising for one or two days in a week and slowly increase to alternate days. Keep a check on your endurance levels and don’t hesitate to cut down on the number of days exercise should your body not permit you. Similarly limit your exercise time to 20 minutes in the beginning and slowly increase the duration, ensuring you don’t push your physical limit.
Start light: Avoid intense workouts when you start your exercises post recovery.
Instead begin with a brisk walk or a light jog in the first week and gradually double the timing or increase the pace. Walking or jogging outdoors will give you the much required fresh air and sunlight that are vital to your recovery. Ensure you choose an outdoor area that is free from poor air quality, example choose a park as opposed to a road with heavy traffic. Walking/ jogging can slowly progress to running/cycling. Again listen to your body and do only as much as you can. Keep shifting in between the pace and intensity of your exercises, slow down or rest whenever you need to.
Rebuild: After taking adequate rest (two-three weeks), you can start working out at a gym to slowly increase your strength levels.
Ensure you choose a gym that is taking necessary Covid checks/precautions before allowing members and staff. Maintain social distancing while working out and choose to sanitize the equipment you use before and after your workout.
Remember that your strengths levels would be highly negatively impacted due to the virus and it will take time before you get back to your pre-corona strength. So consider your first month as your starting point and do not compare yourself with your pre-pandemic strength levels. Start with building muscle endurance and slowly progress to increasing muscle strength, similarly build up on your aerobic capacity by slowly building up on your mileage. Golden rule for building your mileage is to increase it by 10 % every week. Ease yourself back into the workout.
Gradually build muscle memory over time by repeating movement patterns. Focus more on your form and technique rather than focusing on lifting heavier weights.
Remember that you are going back to the gym after a long break, so gradually build up the load and intensity of the workout. Be patient and let your body adapt to the new workload.
Learn to understand your body. If you’re feeling strong and recovered from your training, progress every two/three weeks by increasing the number of sets, reps or weight or decreasing your rest period between sets.
It is advisable to work under the supervision of a certified trainer/ fitness coach who can customize your training plan to meet your fitness goals and spot you during your heavy lifts.
Recovery of the mind: We cannot underestimate the levels of mental stress one undergoes when tested positive for corona virus. Hence recovery must be directed not only towards your body but towards the mind as well. A calming meditation session, taking up a hobby, playing an indoor sport, listening to music are the various activities that would help lift your mood and energise yourself. A light yoga session with some simple stretches to relieve your muscles will do wonders to your recovery.
Nutrition: For your body to gain back all its lost strength there is no better way than supplementing it with right nutrition. Adequate intake of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs and good fats will ensure that your body gets what is required to sustain your workouts.
Understand the additional nutritional demands of your body during recovery and focus on mainly keeping yourself hydrated during your exercises/ workouts/ activities.
Do not exercise on an empty stomach. Eat a date or a fruit to give yourself a small energy boost that will keep you going strong through the workout.
Boost up Vitamin D for bone health and Vitamin C for building immunity.