The best way to return to exercising after COVID

April 12, 2022

COVID-19 is a disease which shouldn’t be taken lightly – even if you feel that you ‘got away’ with just having the mildest possible variety.

Around 10% of people who have contracted COVID have gone on to suffer from something which is termed ‘Long Covid’ (or more formally known as PASC- Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2). For those who have this condition, the symptoms will linger for many months after the initial infection has gone and, sadly, if you find yourself amongst this cohort, resuming exercise is not something you should consider without taking medical advice from your GP.

For those who feel like they have totally recovered from the Coronavirus, getting back to your fitness regime or resuming your training programme may be high on your list of priorities. But how should you do this without putting your recovery or your long term health at risk?

My non-negotiables

DO NOT exercise at all if you still have any symptoms.

Even if you feel you should be doing some kind of fitness activity, you SHOULD NOT be attempting to exercise if you have a fever or a persistent cough, or are experiencing breathlessness, chest pain or palpitations.

My over-arching recommendation is that you do not resume your training programme until at least 2 weeks after you found yourself free of COVID.

My focus is you

As a Personal Trainer it is my job to look after the long-term health of my clients. The whole ethos of what I do is to get you in the best possible shape to maintain the lifestyle you seek for as long as you possibly can – essentially creating and maintaining the healthiest version of yourself. I therefore see no value at all in sanctioning a workout session to make you feel better in the short term, knowing that it could potentially be damaging your health.

OK, lecture over. Here are my 3 steps to getting back to exercise post-COVID

My 3 steps to a safe return to exercising

  1. Test yourself at home

You can visit a mini gym without stepping over your front door. Utilise what you have around you – climb the stairs a few times, walk a couple of laps of your hallway or use your dining room chairs to try a couple of rounds of standing up and sitting back down. These exercises might seem low value, but they are also low risk and there’s no temptation to ‘go for it’ just because someone is watching.

  1. Start with walking

The great thing about walking is that you are in control, and you have time to listen to your body and modify your pace and stride based on what your body tells you is right at any particular time. The fact that you are out in the fresh air is a happy bonus and there’s no doubt that there’s an added mental boost to be had in that too.

  1. Carefully move up to training

Move to your chosen exercise - be it running, biking, swimming or a session in the gym – when you are 100% certain that the walking alone isn’t too intense (don’t be afraid to admit that it is). Take it slow and steady and resist the urge to ramp things up too quickly. Start at around 50% of your pre-COVID training level and check in with your body after just 10 minutes or so to make sure that your not experiencing any pain, strain or shortness of breath. 

I understand that there’s an over-riding desire in us all to get back to normal as soon as possible, especially if you are craving your fitness fix. That said, there’s no value at all in trying to do things that your body simply isn’t up to, and as a reputable Personal Trainer it’s my job to make sure that you protect your health and wellbeing. Of course, I’m always here if you need a bit of extra support whilst you’re still recovering – and it’s a great time to catch up on all my Personal Training tips at