Slowly return to exercise. Even if you had only mild symptoms, with no chest pain or shortness of breath, you should still wait until you have at least seven days with no symptoms before returning to exercise. Start at just 50 percent of normal intensity. A gradual, stepwise and slow return to full activity is recommended.
Stop exercise if symptoms return. If you develop symptoms after exercising, including chest pain, fever, palpitations or shortness of breath, see a doctor.
Some patients should see a cardiologist before exercising. If you experienced chest pain, shortness of breath or fatigue during your illness, you should see a cardiologist before restarting sports activity. Depending on how you feel, your doctor may conduct a test for myocardial inflammation.
Get tested. If you have cold or flu symptoms, get tested for Covid-19 before you return to exercise. If you think you might have had Covid-19, a test might help you and your doctor make decisions about safely returning to exercise.
And remember, as doctors we can run tests, but you know your own body better than anyone else. You know how you normally feel when you walk up the stairs, when you run, when you bike. If you’ve had Covid-19, are those things harder for you? Are you noticing a change in your body? If the answer is “yes,” it’s important to speak with your doctor.
Even if you’ve never been diagnosed with Covid-19, be mindful of how you are feeling. Many people with Covid-19 don’t know they have it, or have general symptoms like gastrointestinal upset, fatigue or muscle aches. So if you’ve been feeling “off” during exercise, listen to your body, ease up and check with your doctor.
Covid-19 is an aggressive virus that spreads easily and carries significant morbidity and mortality. Cardiac risk in particular is greater with Covid-19 than with other viral diseases, so it makes sense to return to activity with caution.