Is it safe to exercise if you have shortness of breath after COVID-19?

When you’re dealing with shortness of breath due to COVID-19, you may be wondering when you can safely return to exercise. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

2022 reviewTrusted Source found that, in people with long COVID symptoms, exercise capacity was significantly reduced for more than 3 months after they’d recovered from COVID-19.

It may be helpful to consult with your doctor about a return-to-exercise plan that’s right for you. The factors considered in developing this plan may include:

  • your age
  • your overall level of health and fitness
  • how long you were sick with COVID-19
  • how severe your illness was
  • any other lingering symptoms you may have
  • your fitness goals during recovery

Regardless of your specific plan, pacing is key. Aim to start slowly and to gradually increase exercise duration and level of intensity over time. Listen to your body. Don’t be afraid to back off a little or take a rest if you feel tired or short of breath.

The bottom line

COVID-19 can damage lung tissue and impact your breathing patterns. Because of this, it’s quite common to have shortness of breath even after you’ve recovered from COVID-19.

Shortness of breath due to COVID-19 can last for a couple of weeks or potentially longer. As you recover, there are breathing exercises and other strategies you can try to help make breathing easier.

See your doctor if you have prolonged or worsening shortness of breath after COVID-19. They can help suggest ways to manage your symptoms as you recover.

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