This article gives you the keys to answering a question that all athletes have asked themselves: can you continue to train if you are positive for COVID-19? Find out what to do when you have a respiratory virus and the risks of returning to physical activity too quickly. With a few simple rules and the right guidelines, you can take care of yourself and get back into shape as soon as possible!
What health professionals recommend: No exercising during a viral episode
You run or do HIIT every week, and you find out that you have contracted COVID-19. What do you do? Between science-based articles explaining that exercise boosts immunity and common misconceptions, such as the idea that sweating helps eliminate toxins more quickly, you hesitate to continue exercising during this period.
However, health professionals are unanimous: in the event of a respiratory viral infection, you should stop training and avoid strenuous exercise. This rest period should continue for up to a week after the symptoms (fever, headaches, aches and pains, etc.) have stopped. Even without symptoms, it is better to refrain from any major physical effort when you are ill.
Depending on your state of health, you may wish to consult a doctor before resuming exercise. In any case, be aware of any unusual sensations and restart your activities gradually.
The risks of exercising during COVID-19
When a virus reaches the bronchial tubes (flu, bronchitis, cold, COVID-19, etc.), the inflammation
caused tires the body. Athletes feel very short of breath, making it more difficult to exert
The fever combined with sweating also increases the risk of dehydration, promoting the onset of
cramps or headaches, sometimes already felt during an influenza episode. But the most important
risk associated with COVID-19 is cardiac. Stiffness is a sign that the body is fighting the disease. The
muscles are still weak (as is the heart). Stressing the heart with intense activity can lead to
inflammation, such as pericarditis or myocarditis.
This phenomenon is well known to sports cardiologists, who state among their 10 golden rules:
“don’t do intense physical activity if you have a fever, you’re within 8 days of a flu episode (fever +
aches and pains), test positive for COVID-19 or within 48 hours of your vaccination.”
Exercise and COVID-19: Guidelines
To summarise, here are some guidelines to help you make the right choices and recover quickly:
● If you have a fever, headache, cough and aches, you should rest for a week.
● If you experience chest pain or palpitations (which last for an abnormal amount of time or
occur outside of exercise), stop all physical activity and contact a doctor who can carry out
tests if necessary.
● If you are positive for the COVID-19 virus but have no symptoms, you can continue to do
gentle activities (walking, yoga, stretching, rowing or jogging at a slow pace, at home, of
course), but reduce the pace and rest more.
● Support your body in its fight against the virus by eating healthily (plenty of fluids,
preferably served warm, fruit and vegetables, lighter meals, etc.) and getting plenty of sleep.
Since regular exercise helps the body fight various illnesses better, you can gradually resume your
training once you have recovered. This can even help you recover and regain your breath and muscle
tone, provided you do it at the right time. Discover our proposed 4-step programme to get back to
training after a bout of flu or COVID-19.
Don’t worry; as an athlete, you know how to take care of your body and maintain your physical
condition. All you have to do is take the time to recover properly to return to your normal routine
with complete peace of mind.
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