Can I exercise if I have COVID? Here’s what Staten Island’s top doctors are saying

STATEN ISLAND, NY — You don’t have to let a positive COVID test stop you from getting your daily exercise, doctors say.

In fact, two of Staten Island’s top doctors told Advance they’re giving those with mild symptoms of COVID-19 and its major variants the go-ahead to follow their exercise routines — with a few exceptions. close.

Staying active might even help prevent other health complications, said Dr. Thomas Gut, associate director of medicine at Staten Island University Hospital.

“Bed rest is a bad thing in general,” Gut said, adding that there’s “really no downside” to exercising while battling COVID with mild symptoms or after being tested positive while remaining asymptomatic.

Physical activity, especially cardiovascular exercise like walking, running or cycling, helps prevent blood clots from forming, a common complication of the virus, Gut said.

“There is an increased risk of clotting, heart attacks and strokes related to acute COVID infections and one of the ways to fight some of the clotting is to stay active,” he said. .


Still, it’s important for people with COVID to listen to their bodies, said Dr. Philip Otterbeck, chairman of medicine at Richmond University Medical Center, noting that shortness of breath and chest pain are reasons to slow it down and call the doctor.

“These are the people who shouldn’t be exercising,” Otterbeck said. “If your body is too stressed, it’s best to slow down and probably stop. But, if the symptoms are mild, it certainly can’t hurt.

People with underlying lung disease should be especially careful, Otterbeck said, especially if there’s a drop in their baseline oxygenation, which is measured with a pulse oximeter. These people shouldn’t exercise significantly until it’s clinically approved, he said.


For those used to high-intensity exercise, a more moderate pace is suggested, even if COVID symptoms are mild, such as cold symptoms or a sore throat, the two doctors agreed. But, overall, staying active has many benefits, they said.

“We generally recommend returning to exercise,” Gut said. “We want people to return to their activities and their daily lives.”

Gut said patients who feel up to it and stay active also help themselves recover, as exercise has been shown to help “improve some of the symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath”, associated with the virus.

The goal is to get your heart rate up, Gut said, urging COVID patients to watch for new symptoms, which are a signal of slowing down.


Otterbeck said a few changes to your typical workout routine are warranted if you’re contagious. Taking him outside, wearing a mask and staying isolated from family members are the best approaches, he said.

“If part of that routine is going to the gym, I would say stay away from it,” he said. “Exercise causes heavier breathing than usual, and this would lead to more aerosolization of virus particles, which could more easily spread with this heavy breathing.”

As long as the effort is modest, there are also mental benefits to staying active, Otterbeck said.

“It might be good for your psyche to stick to your routine as much as possible and exercise modestly,” he said. “Exercise is generally good for you, from head to toe.”


While exercising, people with COVID should keep an eye out for any worsening of symptoms,” Gut said. “Any unusual new symptoms should be brought to the attention of your doctor,” he said.

Even those who weren’t physically active before contracting COVID could benefit from a bit of activity while recovering, Gut said.

“It probably won’t hurt them to start some light activity,” he said.

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