8 Expert Tips for Exercise Post COVID

expert tips for exercising post COVID

There is still so much that we don’t know about the impact of the coronavirus. One thing is certain, from the research and our first hand experience, millions of adults have had to change the way they exercise post COVID.

If you currently have COVID-19, the general recommendation is to wait two weeks before exercising.  This period of rest will allow your body to fight the infection and reduce your risk of complications such as myocarditis (inflammation in the heart).

What do you do after two weeks have passed? I hate to say it, but it depends.  Many people can resume their usual activities with no problem.  Others require more time and additional precautions.  And we see many people still struggling months later.

Lingering symptoms, including coughing, fatigue, an irregular heart rate, shortness of breath, aches, or pains can indicate long COVID (or long haulers) syndrome. If this is you, it’s time to discuss with your healthcare provider what the most safe and effective strategy is for you.  As doctors of physical therapy, we are qualified to make these recommendations and guide you on this journey.

In general, the best place to start is with walking.  It’s low impact and you are completely in control in how hard you push or how often you rest.  It will begin to strengthen your muscles, including your heart. However, just a walk around the block can be a struggle for many so let’s get more specific about the safest way to get back to moving.

Tips to resume exercise post COVID:
  1. Access Your Risk. The effects of COVID-19 vary widely, but are likely at low risk of exercise complications if you’re under 50 with no chronic conditions and had a mild case. Otherwise, check in with your healthcare provider to access if further testing is necessary.
  2. Start out small. Once you’re able to resume your daily activities, start with a walk on a flat surface. Give yourself a break and allow your body to rest if you feel fatigued or short of breath.  If you have difficulty making progress from this point, a post COVID rehab program is the next best step.
  3. Check your posture. Working on postural strength and efficient movement allows you to maximize energy and protect yourself from injuries. During walking or exercise, keep your head up and firm through your core muscles. Keep yourself in a position that allows you to breathe easily.
  4. Practice Breathing. Use your lungs and reduce stress with pursed lip and diaphragmatic breathing exercises. This increases oxygen transport to your muscles for increased endurance and decreased soreness. Consider hyperbaric oxygen therapy if fatigue or endurance is problematic for you.
  5. Spend time outdoors. Time outside allows you to get moving, increase vitamin D, and enhances mental health. Do not underestimate the power of mental health in the process of recovery and performance. Pick a scenic route where you can enjoy fresh air, and green spaces.
  6. Pace Yourself. Allow yourself to ease back into physical activity. Divide your workout into brief sessions of just 10 minutes. Try riding a bike or a rowing machine if weight bearing activities cause too much fatigue.  Yoga and Pilates can be ideal movement practices if endurance is low.
  7. Set goals. Increase your speed or distance a little each week working toward a larger goal. When you’re ready, climb up hills, or pump your arms more. If you hit a plateau in your progress and are unable to return to your prior level of fitness it’s time to get some expert guidance.
  8. Seek out support. Listen to your body, so you can avoid pushing yourself too hard. Most people will be able to slowly progress back into their fitness routine, but some will find long COVID symptoms continue to limit them for months or even years.

When it comes to exercise post COVID, and goals to regain your fitness, it is not a matter of working harder but working smarter.  Nutritional strategies, breathing techniques, postural training, supplementation, compression therapy, and oxygen treatments can set you up for success.  That may sound like a lot of effort, but the results will be worth it.

We have a team of experts here to support you when you feel stuck.  Even when the doctor doesn’t have a clear answer to why you still don’t feel well so long after recovery from your initial COVID illness, you can maximize your changes of a full recovery. A well researched and personalized rehab plan will protect your long term health and the lifestyle you love.

Visit the Long COVID Rehab page on our website or schedule a phone consult for more information.

If you have had a setback from an illness or injury, consider Integrative Health Coaching as your next best step.  Learn more HERE.

10 Strategies for Increased Energy this Summer

revitalize your summer energy

Did you start the summer excited about all the things you would do in the warm, sunny weather? Or perhaps you have travel planned or are busy with a house full of kids out of school. The problem I am hearing now that we are about half way through the season, is that summer things take so much energy and many of us have run out.  So, let me give you some strategies to revitalize your summer with increased energy.

Is it even possible? Absolutely. We just need to regroup and refocus on our needs so we have the ability to do all the other things.  Consider these 10 strategies to attain and maintain increased energy so you can make the most of your summer with family and friends.

1. Take Care of Your Emotional Needs

Physical Energy will flow when you satisfy your emotional needs. You are the only person who knows exactly what you require for this, so plan time to do what is necessary to ensure you are feeling contentment. It’s easy to let these things slide when making summer fun for everyone else.

2. Up Your Antioxidant Intake

Antioxidants help the body create energy at the cellular level. Including antioxidant rich foods like berries, cherries, artichoke, asparagus, and dark leafy greens can give you increased energy, allow your muscles to perform better, and may even improve your mood.

3. Get More B Vitamins

Like antioxidants, B vitamins (primarily found in meat, fish, poultry, and dairy) are necessary for the body to produce energy. You may need a B vitamin supplement if you eat a vegan diet, are depleted due to certain medications (like hormonal birth control), or have an increased genetic requirement.

4. Avoid Heavy Foods

Eating especially rich foods prepares you well for a Netflix marathon, but not for hiking with friends or running through the sprinkler with your kids. Fill most of your plate this season with lean meats and fiber rich vegetables. You will be fueled and ready with increased energy when adventure calls.

5. Use Caffeine to Your Advantage

Caffeine increases alertness, so having a coffee can sharpen your mind. However, to get the energizing effects, you have to get just enough but not too much. It can cause insomnia, when consumed in excess or too late in the day. Knowing your genetic response to caffeine can be a game changer.

6. Sleep Well

Getting restful, deep sleep is necessary for your physical and mental health. In order to have plenty of energy during these active summer days, you’ll need plenty of deep sleep to give your body time to rejuvenate. Aim for 7-8 hours and work on improving the quality, not just quantity.

7. Plan Ahead

To keep yourself from feeling stressed out, have an idea of what you want to do over the next 3 or 4 days. Making a note of what you both have to do and hope to do means you can also plan to achieve balance regarding your activity, rest, and rejuvenation.

8. Be Active

Sit less and move more. Whether you’re at the park with kids, working from home, or on vacation, get up and move.  Take a walk, jump on your bike, push kids on the swing, toss around the football – the active doesn’t matter, but the movement does.

9. Vary Your Activities

Even if you love playing golf, a change of pace can revitalize you. Try something new like pickleball, join the kids in their backyard soccer game, swim laps, or take advantage of a guest pass at a local gym.  Challenging your body and mind can bring about a renewed spirit.

10. Pace Yourself

Allow blocks of time to rest, read, stretch, or listen to your favorite music.  Recovering sufficiently from summer activities will give you more energy to keep up with the activities you love most.

There’s no big secret to revitalization. Try the tips above to stay engaged both physically and mentally and energy will be more available to you.

If you need help identifying if you have nutrient deficiencies leaving you sluggish or need strategies to get more sleep or destress from work so you can enjoy your family time more, I would love to help you strategize a plan for more energy.

As a Functional Nutrition Specialist and Integrative Health Coach, I help those at midlife feeling fatigued and frustrated with their health discover vibrant energy and confidence in their body again.  Schedule a Free Discovery Call to Discover your next best step toward optimal health.

Get started today and pump up your vitality this summer!

Simple Steps Toward Lifelong Brain Health

Brain Health

Just as our physical body changes over time, it’s natural to see changes in our brain as well. Fortunately, it’s also true that we can maintain our cognitive fitness in similar ways that we maintain physical fitness.  At any age, lifestyle choices play a major role in how well we think, feel, learn, react, and remember. Each day, we can take simple steps toward lifelong brain health.

Failing brain health is a public health epidemic. Research shows that 3 out of 5 Americans will develop a brain disease in their lifetime. If we add emotional well being and mental focus to the brain health equation, I’d say we are close to 100% of individuals that will at some point have concern about how efficiently their brain is working.

Right now you may have no concerns and this is where the problem starts – we take our brain for granted.  Now is the time to start implementing strategies to keep it in tip top shape.

Already have concerns? Then these tips can help you as well.  The goal is to achieve your best brain at the stage of life you are in. The result, to have more success in relationships and business, overcome obstacles and be resilient to tough life circumstances, and continue to complete your daily activities independently for as long as the rest of your body will keep up.

Try these suggestions for taking care of your brain starting today.

 

1. Exercise Regularly

Physical activity delivers more oxygen to your brain and helps form new neural connections. Exercise boosts happy hormones as well as helps to relieve physical and emotional effects of stress. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.

2. Eat Healthy Fats

About 60% of the brain is made of fat.  That means fatty acids from foods like fish, nuts, olives, and avocado are needed for optimal functioning.  Specifically omega 3 fats have been shown to decrease cognitive decline, improve focus, and reduce rates of depression.

3. Sleep Well

We all know the feeling of brain fog when we don’t sleep well, but did you know your memory and learning capacity actually grow stronger while you sleep. Go to bed and wake up on a regular schedule and talk with a healthcare provider if you are having trouble getting quality sleep.

4. Address Chronic Conditions

Many physical health issues like obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and high blood pressure can impact your brain.  Schedule regular screenings for these health markers and seek solutions to move back in the right direction when those numbers creep up.

5. Stay Connected

Block out time to spend with family and friends. Social ties help to slow the rate of memory decline and enhance mental and emotional health outcomes. Add some laughter to the situation and the brain boosting effects become even more powerful.

6. Express Creativity

Making art raises serotonin levels, while music enhances brain function. Experiment with different hobbies to find something you enjoy. The good news is that you don’t have to have artistic talent, you will see benefits regardless of your skill level.

7. Relax and Reflect

Relaxation reduces inflammation in the brain and helps it work more efficiently.  Forms of reflection could include prayer, mediation, a walk in nature, deep breathing, yoga, or listening to music.  Find what works best for you and savor the present moment.

8. Change Your Self Talk

Don’t speak to yourself in a way that you wouldn’t speak to a close friend.  Make your inner dialogue compassionate and encouraging. Don’t forget to give yourself credit for the small steps you take toward a better you.

This list might appear overwhelming, but addressing just one area can begin to reduce your risk of cognitive decline. And the investment is definitely worth it – keeping your brain healthy will help you to lead a longer and more rewarding life.

If chronic pain, injuries, or illness are keeping you from being able to any of the above, we have experts to help you overcome these obstacles.  Let’s work together to make summer 2023 YOUR TIME to TAKE BACK the health of your mind & body.  Click HERE to learn more about how we can help, or go directly to our Schedule to Book a Virtual Strategy Session.