Skip to Content

NorthShore’s online source for timely health and wellness news, inspiring patient stories and tips to lead a healthy life.

Healthy You

Exercising After Recovering from COVID-19

December 8, 2021 11:00 AM with
Courtney Carlson

This chat is scheduled to last 1 hour

cardiologist and patient

Patients recovering from COVID-19 tend to have a variety of negative side effects including fatigue and shortness of breath. Rehabilitation facilities for Covid-19 patients are available, however, it’s been shown these negative side effects can be reduced by incorporating daily exercise into one’s lifestyle. Courtney Carlson, Exercise Physiologist at Swedish Hospital, will explain how best to execute more cardiovascular activity into your lifestyle and also answer any questions you may have about cardiovascular exercise. Please submit your questions early so that we can make sure to get to all of them.

Ben (Moderator) - 10:50 AM:
We are going to get started in about 10 minutes. You can start to submit your questions now and we will answer them in order.

  Celeste (Niles, IL) - 11:01 AM:
What are some simple ways I can get exercise into a busy day?
Courtney Carlson
To gain the physiological benefits from exercise it is recommended to get at least 10 minutes at a time at a moderate level. You don't need to necessarily block out 60 minutes at one time every day. If you can fit in 10-15 minutes of walking at a moderate level a few times throughout the day you will still receive the benefits exercise has on the body. The American Heart Association recommends 150 min/week of moderate level exercise (meaning challenging enough you are focused on exercise and slightly out of your comfort zone but still able to speak a sentence without major shortness of breath). However you can fit that into your schedule during the week is okay. Maybe one day you are only able to fit in 15 minutes twice during one day but then another day you are able to do 40+ min, that's okay.

  Barry (Park Ridge, IL) - 11:13 AM:
I take Zumba at my gym but my feet always hurt afterwards. Should I get different shoes?
Courtney Carlson
You want to make sure you have shoes with good support when exercising in general so that could be the cause of your discomfort afterwards. Zumba itself has some quick movements that could be tough on your body and feet if they aren't used to those types of movements consistently. If the problem keeps persisting you may want to check in with your MD to make sure there is not anything else going on as conditions like plantar fasciitis can also cause foot pain during and after exercise.

  Marie (Arlington Heights, IL) - 11:20 AM:
How can I recognize the difference between a normal exercise level heart rate or breathing vs a heart rate or breathing to be concerned about?
Courtney Carlson
For the general population, a good way to measure is to calculate your age-predicted max heart rate which is 220-your age. For exercise it is recommended to work anywhere between 40%-80% of that age-predicted max heart rate based on your general exercise and activity level. A normal resting heart rate is anywhere from 60-100 beats per minute. Generally your heart rate should increase about 20 bpm from rest during exercise however depending on how vigorous your exercise is it may be more than that. You can always check your pulse rate while exercising and monitor the consistency of it during your exercise sessions. If your heart rate during exercise is consistently above your age-predicted max heart rate then you may want to follow up with your MD.

  Casey (Skokie, IL) - 11:32 AM:
I feel so fatigued that the idea of exercising is overwhelming. Should I force myself? How do I know that I'm ready to exercise after having COVID?
Courtney Carlson
Start simple. Just getting up and walking for 5-10 minutes is a great start. The more your body moves the better it will feel over time and you will start to feel like you are able to do more and can increase your minutes. Think of getting more activity throughout the day vs. the term "exercise" for a while until your body feels ready to do more. It may take a little while but eventually your body will get used to the work and you will feel like it is easier to do daily activities. Listen to your body but know that even starting with the simplest bit of activity can make a difference and you will eventually be able to handle more than you think you can

  Ollie (Chicago, IL) - 11:40 AM:
I have had multiple back surgeries and have a bad knee. I used to love running because it helped clear my head. Running is super painful now for me, what are some good alternatives to help get me moving without injury (swimming isn't an option unfortunately either)?
Courtney Carlson
Any type of cardiovascular exercise will help with all of the great benefits exercise provides. There are many different types of other equipment to explore including biking, elliptical, stair stepper, etc. They may not feel as intense as running or that you're not "getting a good work out" but you will still get the physiological benefits of the exercise and help thwart any further injury. If there is an option of joining a gym there are many classes offered that involve great cardiovascular benefit including Zumba, core, spin, kick classes, etc that may be good to look into as an alternative as well.

  Kim (Lincolnwood, IL) - 11:46 AM:
I've tried to work out at the park or school playground and I just get so embarrassed. Do you have any tips to overcome this embarrassment of doing different exercises in public?
Courtney Carlson
It can be so hard to not feel embarrassed when exercising in public. Just try to remind yourself that this is for you and not for anyone else. Exercise is a way to benefit you and your body and help with a long, healthy and great quality of life. Sometimes using headphones to play music or something can help to block out the outside world and help bring focus back to the reason and purpose of your exercise, it should be fun! If you are concerned with not understanding what you're specifically doing for exercise, investing in a personal trainer may help to figure out which exercises to do and decrease the anxiety of exercise in general

  Nicole (Fox Lake, IL) - 11:53 AM:
I used to dance years ago but now I do mainly HIIT workouts. What do I need to do to prepare for when I want to get back in to dance? I'm thinking of taking a hip hop class.
Courtney Carlson
I think doing HIIT workouts can be a great way to exercise and I think you should be fairly prepared for returning to a dance class. Just remember that even though you have been exercising, dance may require different muscles you may not have used in a while so the incidence of soreness is elevated. Any type of dance can be a great cardio workout but depending on the length of the class you may have to take more breaks until your body is used to the workload of the class and the endurance it may require

Ben (Moderator) - 11:57 AM:
That's all the time we have today for questions. Thank you, Courtney, for your time and expertise!

  Please submit your questions.

* fields are required.
Character Limit:  
I agree to the terms of the chat policy.

This chat has ended.

Thank you very much for your participation.