Exercising with Long Covid is tough. Try This Gentle 5-Minute Workout
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Restoring your fitness routine after having Covid can have major benefits for your physical and mental health, but should be approached with caution if you are still experiencing long Covid symptoms.
the NHS advises those experiencing a long Covid to slowly get back to exercising. “Exercise is very important to regain your muscle strength and endurance, but it needs to be safe and managed alongside other long-lasting Covid symptoms,” he says. You can read more about exercise after Covid infection on the NHS website.
Jeannie Di Bon, founder of Moovlite application, is a movement therapist who specializes in working with people who suffer from chronic fatigue and chronic pain. More recently, she has designed workouts for those with long-lasting Covid.
“You may find that your energy levels have dropped after Covid and you may experience fatigue and post-exertional malaise (PEM),” she explains. “With that in mind, I recommend taking it gently and slowly. We need to keep the nervous system calm to allow the body to repair itself and we need to start moving without causing a flare-up of fatigue.
“Listen to your body and try not to push yourself into pre-Covid fitness too soon. The longer you fight the impact of a long Covid, the harder it can be to recover.
Below, Di Bon shared a gentle five-minute workout created for those who feel ready to get moving again.
But remember, always talk to a medical professional about resuming physical activity if you experience chest pain or severe shortness of breath, or if physical activity makes your long-lasting Covid symptoms worse.
Exercise 1: Belly Breathing
Begin with gentle belly breathing, allowing the lower ribs to expand. For many people, Covid causes a cough and cold, so we want to start moving lung tissue the right way. Try inhaling gently through your nose and exhaling through your nose. Lying on your back doesn’t require strong breaths, so take it very gently, allowing the breath to come to you.
Exercise 2: Arm rolls
Staying supine (lying on your back) is a good way to start moving – especially since some people experience dizziness with long Covid. You may find that you don’t want to stand too long or do exercises that involve inversions or squats. Keep it simple. This arm rolling exercise can help stretch in the chest and open up the chest.
Start with your arms at your sides. Try to keep your back heavy as you move your arms overhead and stretch gently. Let your breath fix the spine into the ground and allow the tissues to relax. You can add arm circles to it for a nice stretch across the chest.
Exercise 3: Rolled Ankle
To help with any dizziness that may occur, a few simple leg exercises like calf push-ups or ankle circles are recommended. You can do them lying on your back: hold one leg and try to make a circle up to the ankle without the rest of the leg moving. Gently lower it back to the floor and repeat on the other leg.
Exercise 4: Resistance Training
To further build leg strength, you can add a band for resistance work which is also gentle. This is another great exercise for circulation and helps prevent dizziness. Take a band and place it around your foot with the knee bent. Focus on gently rolling the back of the thigh along the mat until the leg straightens.
Try not to lock the knee or hold onto the tape. Keep the energy flowing down the leg in the band. The back remains heavy in the mat – if your back is arched, raise the leg higher. Once the leg is straight, press the balls of the feet into the band and begin to point and flex the foot. This is a great way to use the calf pump.
Exercise 5: Seated twist
A seated twist is great for helping circulation and digestion. Many people experience stomach cramps and pain with Covid. Find a comfortable seated position and cross one leg over the other straight leg. Use your arms to guide you and look over the opposite shoulder. Try to lift the spine when twisting, rather than compressing the spine. It is also important to go slowly and not force the twist. Stay in the position and breathe gently, allowing tight muscles to relax. You can then repeat on the other side.
Move celebrates exercise in all its forms, with accessible features that encourage you to add movement to your day because it’s not only good for the body, but also for the mind. We get it: Workouts can be a bit tedious, but there are ways to move more without fear. Whether you like hikes, bike rides, YouTube workouts, or hula hoop routines, exercise should be something to enjoy.