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Road to recovery: How can physical activity help?

As people recover from COVID-19, the importance of physical activity and rebuilding muscle strength cannot be overstated.

Our Senior Programme Manager for Healthy ageing, Jess Kuehne, sets out some examples that could help people of all ages on their road to recovery from COVID-19.

To date, there have been over 300,000 officially confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK and likely hundreds of thousands more people who have been affected, given these figures only include those who have been tested.

We know that the way the virus affects individuals varies massively from person to person. Some have had relatively mild cases and recovered quickly whereas others have been stricken for weeks, regardless of whether they ended up needing to go to hospital or not. Many have experienced shortness of breath, loss of muscle strength and are finding themselves not quite able to do the activities they used to be able to, such as walking up the stairs or taking a brisk walk.

As you feel better, there are things you can do to help you recover. Rest is of course crucial, but movement is important to prevent loss of muscle mass, rebuild your strength and help your lungs to recover.

This is why the Centre for Ageing Better is supporting the Chartered Society for Physiotherapy’s new animation and resources outlining the importance of physical activity as part of recovering from COVID-19. As you recover, physios recommend exercising little and often, slowly rebuilding your routine with an aim to do a little more each time.  

For example,  those right at the start of their recovery may want to begin with simple exercises like walking up the stairs, trying out some sitting exercises or these Super Six exercises designed to improve your strength and balance. As you regain strength, you can then start to do activities that are a bit more challenging. You can also find more ideas and inspiration of types of activities you can do at home.  

Of course, if you have any concerns about your recovery or ability to do certain exercises, you should discuss these with your physiotherapist or GP. Recovery will take time, and we know there is still lots to learn about recovering from COVID-19. But in the meantime, there are lots of great resources already available to help individuals who have overcome it to feel better and rebuild their strength.

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Ageing Better's response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Jess Kuehne
Senior Programme Manager – Healthy ageing