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Returning to Physical Activity after COVID-19

Posted on 10th January 2021 by

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has just published their latest research findings with advice about returning to physical activity after COVID-19.

The BMJ have produced very clear guidance for health professionals to use when advising how to safely return to physical activity.

Before embarking on any physical activity, you should be symptom free for 7 days.

If you suffered from any of the following issues during your COVID-19 illness, you should be referred to a local specialist COVID-19 rehab service and/or have further specialist support.

  • Required hospital treatment.
  • Had cardiac symptoms during your illness. These include chest pain, palpitations, severe breathlessness and/or episodes of fainting.
  • Suffered with psychological symptoms.
  • Other symptoms, such as respiratory, digestive or rheumatological, are enduring.

Once you’ve been symptom free for 7 days and as long as you don’t need referral to a specialist COVID-19 rehab service, you should take a phased approach to returning to physical activity.

Each phase should last at least 7 days, and you should use the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to guide you.

These are the recommended phases:

Phase 1: Preparation for return to exercise

  • Breathing exercises
  • Flexibility, stretching & balance exercises
  • Gentle walking

Phase 2: Low intensity activity

  • Walking
  • Light household & gardening tasks
  • Low intensity exercise such as light Yoga

Phase 3: Moderate intensity activity

  • Gradual build up of strengthening and aerobic activity with interval training and rest days

Phase 4: Build on moderate intensity activity

  • Build strengthening and aerobic activity, add functional and co-ordination skills
  • Reduce intervals for training/rest

Phase 5: Return to baseline activity levels

Be realistic with your expectations and build up gradually. It may take at least 5 or 6 weeks to build back up to your pre-COVID activity levels.

How can goPhysio help?

Our team of sports & rehabilitation therapists are expertly placed to help you return to physical activity if you’ve had COVID-19. With our 1-2-1 rehab service, you can benefit from regular 1-2-1 practical sessions to help you return to your activity levels. You can read more details here.

This service is perfect for you if:

  • You’re feeling anxious or worried about returning to activity and you may want 1-2-1 guidance and support.
  • You are not sure what you should be doing or when or how to push yourself.
  • You don’t have access to equipment or facilities, as our Strong Room is fully equipped.
  • You want a programme created for you that will help you gradually return to sort or activity, in a safe way.
  • You’d like an assessment of where you are and a plan to return you to where you want to be.

If you have any concerns or difficulties, please contact your GP or 111 service.


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