Returning to Physical Activity and Sport after having COVID-19

With the rising numbers of COVID infections in the community it is important that we consider the return to training and physical activity for individuals. Due to the risk of post viral complications of COVID-19 it is important to follow a steady return to exercise protocol that is monitoring for any physical and psychological symptoms.

Although the likelihood of post-viral complications of COVID-19 is low due to high vaccination rates, it is still important to use a graduated return to exercise structure to optimise the wellbeing and health of individuals.

Guidelines published from the British Journal of Sports Medicine directed at athletes have split up the graduated return to sport into 5 stages:


STAGE 1: Minimum rest period

  • 7 days or length of isolation as given by the government
  • Walking and activities of daily living only
  • Objective: Allowing recovery and protection of the cardiorespiratory system


STAGE 2: Light Activity

  • 2 days ~15 mins
  • Walking, light jogging or stationary bike.
  • Body weight exercises
  • Objective: Slowly increasing heart rate to <70%


STAGE 3: Resumption of modified training

  • 2 days ~30-45mins
  • Resume gym and field sessions
  • Frequency and length of training gradually increases.
  • Objective: Gradually increase load and monitor for any post viral symptoms such as fatigue.


STAGE 4: Increased training intensity

  • 2 days <60mins
  • Normal training/exercise activities within time and with heart rate <80%
  • Objective: Restore confidence and resume functional skills.


STAGE 5: Full Training

  • Resume normal training sessions

(Important to note this is a guideline only- Individuals are to seek further medical guidance if any ongoing symptoms or complications)


Info from:

Elliott N, Martin R, Heron N, Elliott J, Grimstead D, Biswas A. Infographic. Graduated return to play guidance following COVID-19 infection. British journal of sports medicine. 2020;54(19):1174-1175.