Recovering From Covid-19 and When to Return to Exercise

Recovery from Covid-19 varies widely for everyone depending on the extent and severity of the illness. So when is it best to return to exercise while staying healthy?

Many common symptoms you may experience during your recovery can include fatigue, cough, breathlessness, joint or muscle pain, chest pain, change in sense of taste or smell and anxiety and/or low mood. If you experience breathlessness on mild exertion, fever,  coughing up mucous regularly, dizziness, passing less urine, signification fatigue and/or severe headache OR if your symptoms worsen you should seek medical treatment.

The average recovery time for mild cases of the virus is 2 weeks and 3-6 weeks for severe cases, so it is important to listen to your body. It is recommended that during this time you let your body rest, eat and drink water regularly and if you feel like some light activity move your body within reason.

When can I start exercising again?

It is widely recommended that you refrain from exercise until at least 10 days of rest from symptom onset, including at least 7 days from resolution of all symptoms.

While it is tempting to rush back into activity, this should be avoided as it can prolong recovery. Getting moving again should be gradual, adjusting training volume and intensity to slowly build back your fitness. The below table can be used as a guideline:


So returning to exercise post Covid-19 should be case by case. Depending on how you respond to the virus, how long you’ve been symptomatic and how you’re currently feeling will depend on how and when you come back to sport/exercise.


Author: Dr Jess Martin – Osteopath


Metzl, J. D., McElheny, K., Robinson, J. N., Scott, D. A., Sutton, K. M., & Toresdahl, B. G. (2020). Considerations for Return to Exercise Following Mild-to-Moderate COVID-19 in the Recreational Athlete. HSS journal : the musculoskeletal journal of Hospital for Special Surgery, 16(Suppl 1), 1–6. Advance online publication.

Salman D, Vishnubala D, Le Feuvre P, Beaney T, Korgaonkar J, Majeed A et al. Returning to physical activity after covid-19 BMJ 2021; 372 :m4721 doi:10.1136/bmj.m4721

Vasiliadis, A. V., & Boka, V. (2021). Safe Return to Exercise after COVID-19 Infection. Sultan Qaboos University medical journal, 21(3), 373–377.

Williamstown Health & Lifestyle Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter below and be first to hear about new services or an exclusive offer.