Returning to Exercise after Covid-19

  • Creator
  • #46240

    Thank you Dr. Summer for your expertise!

    I have recently contracted covid-19 and have been very fortunate to have had a mild course to date (slight cough). I feel well enough that I would prefer to be doing some light exercise, but have heard that exercise during covid is contraindicated and may have negative consequences such as increased risk of myocarditis. I was hoping for some guidance on how to best resume an exercise program.

    I have found some literature that suggests 2 weeks of rest after resolution of symptoms followed by gradual return to activity. It appears some other groups are recommending an evaluation with troponin testing, ECG and echocardiography after the 2 weeks of rest.

    My goal is to return to skimo racing, trail running and mountain biking totaling about 8-12 hours per week.

    I really appreciate any guidance you might have to help me getting back to the activities I enjoy safely.

    – Zach

  • Moderator
    Thomas Summer, MD on #46318

    Hi Zach!

    That’s a very good question. But it’s also a very individual question.
    The articel provides a good overview…

    If you still have symptoms, also if it’s just a slight cough, you should not do any exercise!
    If you don’t have any symptoms (and are not in quarantine) anymore you could start with some light walking and see how you feel.
    But it’s recommended to wait at least a week, afer your symptoms went away, to start with exercise.

    As covid-19 is different for every patient I would recommend that you see your primary care physician, before starting true training. This way you make sure that you don’t miss anything and are truly healthy.

    Always listen to your body and stop, if you notice any symptoms.
    If you are carefull, I think you will be back to normal activity soon!

    all the best!

    Thomas Summer, MD on #47967

    Hi Katalina!

    Every infection and every virus is a bit different. But I would recommend a gradual recovery after every infection. If, by “clean our lungs” you mean to jump right back into heavy exercise, you should be carefull. Only start training, if you are fully recovered. Otherwise you risk a relapse.
    (That’s the concerned doc speaking;-) but also the athlete)

    Zach, how are you doing?


    zkernan on #49488

    Hi Dr. Summer –

    I am extremely fortunate to have recovered well from covid-19 without any perceptible effects on my aerobic capacity from pre-covid. I waited 1 week until after my symptoms were completely resolved and started slowly back into exercise via walking, relatively easy hikes and biking. After about 4-5 weeks of building back up my stamina, I was able to get back on my regular exercise routine/distances/pace.

    Thanks for the help and lets keep practicing good covid-19 habits!

    – Zach

    Thomas Summer, MD on #49504

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Zach!

    berniecejwhitener on #59487

    Wow this thread will definitely help me too! Thank you guys for all the experiences you shared.

    hafjell on #62765

    Most severe symptoms presented the night of Jan. 22.
    Test positive on Jan. 23.
    Cleared to return to work on Jan. 28.
    Lift access with 5 year old on Jan 29 and 30 without problems.
    Skate skied this morning (Jan 31) and was winded almost immediately and severely nauseous after 20 minutes. Another 100 yards and I suspect I would have thrown. Limped back to the car with a very fortunate tailwind and net vertical loss.
    Feel fine now–3 hours later. Wonder how much time I should wait before trying again. I have a 34km race this Saturday which I imagine I will have to drop out of.
    Not requesting a comment; just wanted to add my experience.

    Brandon Phillips on #62959

    I thought I would add my story to the mix, and I will try to remember to update it when I’m on the other end. I tested negative on Wednesday, which was also the only day on which I had any form of symptoms. I had a mild sore throat and mild congestion. When I say “mild” I really mean it, I never felt sick, rather I felt like I could get sick in a few days. Woke up Thursday and felt fine. Tested this morning (Saturday) and came back positive.

    I’ve been training for a 40k skate ski race in March. Right now, provided nothing else develops, I’m going to try to ease back into training next weekend and then gradually ramp it up. I’ve had family friends die of covid, so I’m grateful my experience has been so mild. On the other hand, last weekend was probably the strongest I’ve ever skate skied in my life, so it’s hard to sit at home this weekend on a beautiful winter day.

    I’m vaccinated and boosted, which I certainly attribute to my mild experience with covid. Hopefully, that allows me to salvage the rest of the winter season.

    Brandon Phillips on #64465

    I ended up taking 11 days off from my onset of very mild symptoms. I went back to skiing and we immediately got wind and rain for the next two weeks. I got some skiing in during that time, but not the time/ distances I was hoping for due to poor conditions. I did feel fine though. I felt mildly rusty from sitting on my butt for 11 days, but no issues that were covid related. I skate skied my first 40k, and finished in 3hrs in soft conditions (12 inches of snow the day before). I turned around and classic skied a 25k six days later. I’m pretty happy about it considering the setbacks. Good luck to everyone else out there that has to deal with this.

    mattmay3s on #64702

    Tested +ve today. I’m on the UA Private Mountaineering Group and @markpostle recommended this thread. Training for a Denali trip in late May.

    Thanks for all your contributions – looks like I need to get Mrs M to lock the doors to keep me from training until all symptoms have passed. Here in the UK we are allowed out to exercise if we have covid which seems crazy based on the above. Next week was a programmed rest week which will help with my mental state if I’m not getting out there and racking up the miles.

    Will keep you posted ….

    hafjell on #64704

    My experience of recovery was (at least perceived as) binary. One day I could not exercise in Z2, the next day I could. It took 2.5 weeks to start again and my times were consistent with pre-Covid. No drop-off in performance.
    In my case, nobody had to lock the doors as I was incapable of training. Crippling nausea after 1K. For the record, I don’t have Brandon’s technique or training base for nordic.
    Good luck on Denali.

    mattmay3s on #64705

    @hafjell tanks for your input. Where you feeling nauseous before training or just once you started. I feel like I’ve got a head cold. Glad to hear you returned to pre-covid fitness o quickly.

    hafjell on #64706

    Felt fine prior to training. Once started, felt ok for a minute or two, then started to feel more winded than normal considering pace and terrain. Fyi, I was symptom free; a head cold is probably an indication to stay at home and read. As Steve and others have said, “Better to be 5% undertrained than 5% overtrained.”

    mattmay3s on #65051

    Back on ‘light’ training and feeling OK. Can still feel some effects as intensity increases so have planned in a transition week rather than returning straight to a full build week.

    tpetraglio on #65241

    Hi all,

    Thanks for your contributions and valuable experiences.
    I recently had covid (very mild symptoms), I was able to train in Z1-Z2 normally without issues.

    Times on my trainings laps have not droped but what i have noticed is, that my hartrate has increased slightly compared to my pre covid runs.
    Has anyone experienced the same? If yes – how have you managed to return to the normal heartrate?


    Lee Mackintosh on #65679

    Hi all. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Hopefully you’re all getting back into training and progressing well.

    I tested positive last week (12th April) and have had very mild symptoms since, mainly feeling unusually lethargic and having a very slight tickle in my throat.

    I was just about to get back into Z3 work and on week 5 of my Max strength/Base. I have an extensive history of training for Mountain running and Alpinisim.

    Luckily the training is purely recreational so no huge loss to me really. And I am more than happy to return to training cautiously.

    Here I’m basically looking for either validation or guidance around my intended approach with regards to starting again, here’s the plan…

    Commence training 7 days after having no symptoms

    Week 1- up to 3x 30 min Recovery zone walks (flat)
    Week 2- 3x 45 mins R/Z1 on undulating terrain (if body allows)
    Week 3- 2x 30 min Z2 + 1x strength workout
    Week 4- Recommence Base period if feeling ok.

    During this I’ll be monitoring my HR during exercise, Morning HR and average resting. Plus my perceived exertion during any activity.

    If this is over cautious or anybody has a better insight id be grateful for you input.

    Thanks in advance,


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