Post Covid Fatigue - 5 tips to beat it slowly and steadily!
Do you feel like you’re in a workout slump post- covid? Your energy levels are not what they were and you’re finding it difficult to motivate yourself to exercise like you used to? Post-Covid Fatigue is REAL! And according to studies, you’re definitely not alone!
Covid-19 disrupted our way of life considerably over the last few years. But one of the most significant long term effects of Covid is the way it has changed our approach to health.
During the first few months of the lockdown, stay-at-home orders, closures of parks, gyms, and fitness centres made it difficult for us to continue with our fitness routines.
Data from studies done in early 2020 revealed that physical activity levels dropped dramatically in many countries. This was determined by analysing more than 19 million smartphone-based, step-counting measurements taken over 1 year. Another study in 2021, found that people who used to have steady walking, running, and cycling habits before the pandemic, decreased their activity levels considerably.
As we start off 2022, with a new vaccine, a steadily declining number of Covid cases and easing up of restrictions around the world, people are now ready to go back to the way things were.
But, this may be more challenging than we realise!
How does post covid fatigue affect long-term health?
Although Covid19 is a respiratory illness that affects the lungs first, studies have shown that it can cause long-lasting effects on our overall health.
Studies show that more than one-third of people affected by Covid could develop signs of Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC). Another study revealed that fatigue and body pain after exercise were the most common symptoms of long covid, even after 7 months of the initial infection, as shown in the figure below.
Ref: Front. Microbiol., 23 June 2021 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2021.698169
Perhaps the most significant complication of the covid19 infection is its ability to directly affect our heart.
Research has shown that the virus does infect and damage cardiomyocytes or heart muscle cells, and interfere with their contraction. The inflammation in heart muscles is called myocarditis and it is known to occur even in patients who only had mild symptoms. 15% of the athletes at a US-based university developed myocarditis after Covid, while another study revealed that 78% of the people evaluated had cardiac involvement when they were infected, and nearly 60% of them still showed ongoing myocardial inflammation.
In addition, studies also showed that there were increased risks of atrial fibrillation, sinus tachycardia, sinus bradycardia, ventricular arrhythmias, and atrial flutters. Data revealed that dysrhythmias were 1.69 times more likely to occur, even 12 months after an acute Covid 19 infection, when compared to control groups in the study.
What are post covid fatigue symptoms?
It is common to feel tired and drained after any illness. However, the long term effects of covid are often quite severe. People suffering from post covid fatigue report feeling extremely tired doing otherwise routine activities, and this affects their quality of life and their ability to function normally. Aside from post covid fatigue, patients also complain of brain fog, muscle aches and pains, and headaches, which are also called post-exertional symptoms, appearing when patients are extremely tired.
How long does long term effects of covid last?
Fatigue is very common after any viral infection and usually settles after 2 or 3 weeks. However, in some people dealing with post covid fatigue, it can linger for weeks or months.
5 Tips to Ease to Beat Post Covid Fatigue
“I think the best advice about exercising after having COVID-19 is to be very careful — this is a challenging disease. No matter your age or your fitness level, it’s a good idea to discuss any physical activity plans with your doctor and proceed with caution.”
says Dr Michael Fredericson, MD, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation in the department of orthopaedic surgery at Stanford Medicine in Palo Alto, California.
“COVID rarely kills young people who are fit, but COVID can cause myocarditis. The risk of myocarditis with COVID is around 1 in 300. A diagnosis of myocarditis means compulsory rest from intensive exercise for at least 6 to 12 weeks.”
says Prof. Sanjay Sharma, Professor of cardiology, Sports Cardiologist, St George’s, University of London.
Here are a few tips to ease your way back into your workout after Covid.
- Don’t exercise while you still have symptoms of covid-19. Focus on rest, good hydration, proper nutrition and follow the advice of your healthcare provider.
- If you had a mild illness or an asymptomatic Covid19 infection, consider returning to activity after a 10 day isolation period. Start slow and gradually up the intensity. Listen to your body — especially if you have any existing heart issues
- If you had required hospitalisation for Covid19 you will need to be evaluated by your healthcare provider before you get back to exercise.
- If you were diagnosed with Myocarditis you need medical clearance from your healthcare provider before returning to exercise. You could plan a gradual return to physical activity over the course of weeks or months to monitor for signs and symptoms of myocarditis.
- Monitoring you hearts response to exercise using a wearable can help build confidence as you return to fitness!
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