Patience and paying attention to your body are two of the most important things you can do in your return
If you’re one of the 24 million U.S. residents who have beaten COVID-19, you’ll face a lot of variables as you plan your return to the water. How do you know when you’re really ready to start swimming in the pool or open water again?
There are no long-term studies to tell us how to best and most safely return to exercise; all recommendations are based on expert opinion and consensus.
A reasonable approach is to start gradually and base increases in activity on how you feel. Everyone is different, so your return should be individualized. Don’t follow what someone else has been able to do. Figure out what’s right for you.
First, you should be symptom-free for 14 days before resuming physical activity. You don’t want to infect your lanemates so be sure you’ve overcome the disease.
If you were severely ill, suffered complications such as blood clots or myocarditis, or had a prolonged illness (a patient called a long-hauler), you need to wait longer to resume activity and should discuss plans with your physician before returning.
Even if you had a mild or suspected COVID-19 infection, you might have to wait a while before returning to exercise. Key concerns include cardiac damage from acute myocarditis, increased blood clotting, and anxiety and depression.
Before swimming again, you should be able to easily manage your usual daily activities and be able to walk 500 meters on flat ground without shortness of breath or severe fatigue.
If your symptoms return or you develop new symptoms after physical activity, you need to stop, seek medical advice if your symptoms are severe, and restart the process after you’ve been symptom free for another 14 days.
You should start by exercising at 50 percent or less of previous activity levels. So, if you used to swim 3,000 yards in a workout, you should swim 1,500 yards or less at a light intensity. Continue at light intensity for at least two weeks and increase gradually only if you continue to feel good. Monitor yourself for any changes, such as feeling not recovered one hour after exercising or on the next day, abnormal breathlessness, abnormal heart rate, excessive fatigue or lethargy, or anxious or depressed.
Patience is very important when you’re returning from a COVID-19 infection. There will be more opportunities to swim so don’t feel rushed to come back. Make sure you’ve been symptom free for 14 days before starting any physical activity and ramp up your workout routine slowly and as your body tells you is right. You know your body. If something doesn’t feel right, seek care and take care of yourself.
- Health and Nutrition