As we know the coronavirus disease has changed the landscape in so many areas of our lives, including exercise and fitness. More and more evidence along with findings are being released on exercising after COVID-19, and the impact it has on our overall health and wellbeing, both short and long term.
As the coronavirus disease affects everyone differently it’s important that fitness professionals fully understand those impacts. As well as knowing the dangers, the warning signs and having the knowledge along with the tools to help their clients when returning to exercise.
As much as exercise plays a huge role in your client's overall health and wellbeing, it is important not to exercise during the initial 7-day isolation period, even when asymptomatic. When someone has COVID-19 their body's immune system is working overtime to fight the virus, and it requires all their energy to continue that fight. The best way to reserve that energy and fight the virus off is to rest.
Medical experts advise remaining well hydrated, eating a balanced diet, getting good amounts of vitamin D and sleep also play a vital role in the recovery process.
Medical advice recommends people wait between 7 to 10 days of being symptom-free before returning to any form of exercise. Resuming any physical activity after having COVID-19 has an extra layer of complexity due to the potential for complications and long-term health problems. Regardless, if they have had a mild or even moderate bout of COVID-19 there is still a risk of developing a setback due to the stress that exercises place on the body. The key is to start off at a low level and slowly build from that guided by each individual's unique feedback.
We have mentioned previously how the virus impacts everyone differently, the same applies to how the body reacts to returning to exercise post covid. Some of your clients will return from COVID-19 after the standard ‘stand down period’ feeling great and have no short - or long-term symptoms. Most will experience at least 1 symptom for between 2 to 6 weeks after returning to exercise. While others will develop symptoms that can last much longer.
The main reason COVID-19 has such an impact on the body is that it primarily exerts an inflammatory reaction in our body, which can affect many body systems, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, gut and musculoskeletal system, all of which are important for optimal fitness. Regular physical activity along with eating well can help you: recover, build your muscle strength and become independent again.
As a fitness trainer is vital you understand the potential risks with clients returning to exercise after COVID-19, and just as important you have a system in place to help manage a safe return. It’s similar to Fitness Professionals undertaking their yearly First Aid/CPR refresher course. Trainers do this to ensure they have the basic skills, knowledge and understanding to give their clients the best possible care if needed. The percentage of clients who will need your expertise in First Aid will be very low compared to the number of clients who will need your expertise upon returning from COVID-19.
The above information is extracted from the Exercising After Covid-19 educational resource designed by Sean McCrory & Kirstyn Campbell.
Sean McCrory spoke recently on Fitness Education Online's Podcast Series Broscience. Click here to Listen more on the subject of COVID-19 and how it is affecting clients who are returning to exercise.