, some people feel pressured to rush back to work, school, or other activities after testing positive to COVID-19.
If your symptoms are mild, you might be tempted to just keep (remotely) working through your infection, and quickly return to your usual exercise program so you don’t lose your fitness.
But while we might be used to bouncing back quickly after other viruses, we need to be more cautious with COVID-19. Aside from the risk of transmission, over-exertion can exacerbate and prolong your COVID-19 symptoms.
Pushing too hard can set you back
getting adequate rest when you’re diagnosed with COVID-19. Pushing yourself too hard and too early during your recovery from your initial COVID-19 infection may set your progress back.
So you’ve tested positive for COVID-19. How can you tell whether you’re well enough to get back to your usual routine?
Here are five tips:
1) Take your time
If you’re feeling sick, use your paid leave entitlements, if you have them, even if it’s for a day or two to relax and unwind.
While it may be tempting to return to work quickly after COVID-19, avoid attending the workplace for at least seven days if you work in a
such as health, disability and aged care. For other workers, it’s a good idea to isolate until your
If you’re feeling fatigued but want to get back to work, you might be able to start with half-days, or work for a few hours, then ramp up to your usual workload.
With COVID-19 isolation rules largely gone, some people feel pressured to rush back to their usual activities. But you should be cautious. Source: Getty / Graham Denholm
2) Pace, plan and prioritise
are important while you’re still experiencing COVID-19 symptoms:
pace yourself by spreading out the activities into smaller and more manageable tasks with rest in betweenplan your activities in advanceprioritise what you need to do over what you would like to do.If you’re struggling with fatigue while recovering from COVID-19, a referral to an occupational therapist or physiotherapist can provide further strategies to manage this symptom.
3) Wait until you’re symptom-free for seven days to exercise
You might feel ready to start exercising after your symptoms resolve but to avoid overexertion, it’s important to wait until you have been free of any COVID-19 symptoms for at least
Start with light-intensity exercises – where you can easily breathe, maintain a conversation and feel you could sustain the activity for hours – for 10–15 minutes to begin with.
Only exercise again if you feel recovered from the previous day’s exercises, without new onset or worsening of symptoms such as fatigue and pain.
4) Ask for help
If you do experience more significant symptoms from COVID-19, consider roping in your friends and family. They may be entitled to paid carer’s leave or even two days of
for casual workers if they need to care for someone with COVID-19.
If you are struggling to manage your health and other financial pressures, contact your financial institution to discuss payment plans.
If you work in a high-risk setting such as health, disability and aged care, you may also be entitled to
to help you through the time when you cannot work because of COVID-19.
You should wait until you’re symptom-free for 7 days before exercising. Source: AAP
5) Know when to see your health provider
If you’re over 70, (or over 50 with additional risks, or are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person aged over 30 with additional risks), talk to your GP about
as soon as you test positive to COVID-19. Antivirals reduce your chance of severe COVID requiring hospitalisation, and are ideally taken within five days of diagnosis.
If you’re managing COVID-19 at home, use a
to see if you need medical advice for your condition.
If you have ongoing symptoms after your initial COVID-19 infection, make an appointment with your doctor to
and refer you onto other health professionals, where appropriate, to assist with symptom management.
While there are currently no medications to treat COVID-19 symptoms such as fatigue, exercise-based health professionals such as physiotherapists can set you up with an exercise program and progress it accordingly to reduce fatigue and assist with breathlessness.
Mahatma Gandhi was right when he said “good health is true wealth”, so be kind to yourself when recovering from COVID-19.
Clarice Tang is a senior lecturer in physiotherapy at Western Sydney University
She receives funding from the NSW Government, Department of Health and the Maridula Budyari Gumal association. She is affiliated with Western Sydney University and is a member of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand and the American Thoracic Society.