Two lines on a quick test – bang, the two-run-a-week rounds are gone for now. But how can you go back to training when the symptoms of the corona infection disappear and the test is negative again?
The fact is that if you expect too much from your body, there is a risk of heart arrhythmia or heart muscle inflammation. So caution counts. Two sports doctors reveal what that might look like.
Why is it so important not to start exercising again too soon?
This requires looking at the theory first. “The corona infection has two peaks,” says Professor Martin Halle. He is the Medical Director of the Department of Preventive Sports Medicine and Sports Cardiology at the Technical University of Munich.
The virus enters the body and causes a protective reaction of the immune system, the first peak. The second phase follows about seven days later. Then experts talk about “overwhelming immune reaction”. Levels of inflammation, which can be measured in the blood, then rise again.
Behind it are inflammatory processes that occur in the separating layer between blood and vessels, as well as in the lungs, heart, and other muscles.
The problem. “At this point the test could be negative again,” says Martin Halley. “If you’re training at these high levels of inflammation, it’s counterproductive.”
However, he has good news for everyone who has sufficient vaccination protection. “The second phase is much weaker in vaccinated people than in unvaccinated people.”
And yet another reason why you shouldn’t get back on the treadmill or CrossFit class too soon. “There may still be sources of infection so that the disease can recur due to excessive stress,” says Professor Bernd Wohlfarth, Director General. Doctor at the Sports Medicine Department of the Charité in Berlin.
By the way, this applies not only to the infection with Covid-19, but also to other infections, such as the flu.
When can I start again?
Martin Hulley gives the following basic rules. If you have had no or only mild symptoms, you should allow three days without symptoms before starting your first light workout. For some more severe symptoms, such as a cough or fever, he recommends waiting seven days without symptoms.
What if the infection really knocked you out and your lungs or heart were affected too? Then it is better for the doctor to clarify how and when the sport will continue.
How to properly handle re-entry?
“Safety first” is Bernd Wohlfarth’s advice. “The more inexperienced the athletes are, the more careful they should be.” This is only possible if you put your body’s signals ahead of your training plan. “First you have to get a feel for it again. How efficient is the organism now?” says Bernd Wohlfarth.
Not being able to pick up where you left off before you tested positive is normal. “You lose a lot more performance because of an infection than if you were relaxing on the beach during this time,” says Martin Halley.
The sports doctor has a rule. Start at 50 percent of the load you stopped at before infection. “If I’ve run ten kilometers before, I’ll start with five kilometers.”
Which sports are particularly suitable?
“The best sports are those that are easy to manage in terms of intensity and duration,” advises Bernd Wohlfarth. Means: The spinning class, which is designed for 60 minutes, is less convenient. A score on an ergometer is better, where you can start with about 20 minutes of easy cycling.
By the way, those sports that are not so heavy on the cardiovascular system are more suitable for returning to it. This could be a yoga or pilates class or strength training at the gym.
How do I know if I’m taking too much?
The advantage here is for those who can monitor their heart rate with a smart watch or fitness tracker and compare the measured values before the infection. “If you need a higher heart rate for the same intensity, that’s a sign,” Halley says.
Other warning signs are chest tightness, lightheadedness or an erratic pulse, “an extra pulse that you can really feel,” as Halley describes it. All of these can indicate inflammation of the heart muscle, which is reason enough to get checked out by a doctor.
“It’s also better to clarify shortness of breath that occurs even with very little effort,” advises Wohlfarth. By the way, this also applies if shortness of breath occurs only after exercise or with a pronounced dry cough.