Difficulty breathing, persistent cough, and fatigue are common signs and symptoms of COVID. And the vast majority of people will manage their symptoms at home.
As a cardiorespiratory physical therapist, I help people with heart and respiratory problems manage and recover from a variety of illnesses.
Here are some simple exercises to help you navigate COVID at home.
Why should I exercise when I have COVID?
Your body needs to rest when you are sick. However, doing simple, gentle exercises while you’re convalescing with COVID can help improve your symptoms.
People who are older, overweight, or have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, or cardiovascular (heart/circulation) and respiratory (lung) illnesses, are more likely to have symptoms of COVID.
Therefore, these groups are among those who would particularly benefit from simple, gentle exercise at home.
1. Relaxed breathing
This exercise is particularly helpful if you feel short of breath:
* Get into a stable and comfortable position. Drop your shoulders and breathe slowly
* Purse your lips (like you’re blowing through a straw)
*Exhale slowly and steadily through the mouth
*Repeat the exercise for one minute.
You can do this exercise as many times as you want. But stop if you feel dizzy, as taking too many breaths in a row will cause slight dizziness.
Do the exercise in a room with the windows open. If you feel hot, you can cool your face with a damp towel while you do this.
Getting into a comfortable position is key to this exercise. Sitting in a supportive chair may be the easiest thing for most people.
However, for some people with COVID, sitting in a chair is too strenuous. In these cases, try this exercise in other positions, such as lying on your side, as recommended by the World Health Organization.
2. Deep breath
This can improve oxygen intake and calm nerves:
* Stand in an upright position. relax your shoulders
*Breathe deeply through your nose for two to three seconds. Hold your breath for three seconds, if you can
*Exhale through your nose or mouth, whichever is more comfortable for you.
*Repeat the exercise for one minute.
Again, stop if you feel dizzy. You may cough and spit up some phlegm after this exercise. If you have to cough, cover your mouth with a tissue and dispose of it immediately in a sealed bag after each use. Wash your hands well afterwards.
3. Lie on your stomach (if you can)
You may have heard from others, such as Harry Potter author JK Rowling, about the benefits of lying on your stomach (pronated) during breathing exercises to improve oxygenation.
Pronation is common in the hospital for people who need extra oxygen. However, the evidence for home pronation is unclear and it’s not for everyone.
Since you must remain on your stomach for at least 30 minutes, some people may find this extremely uncomfortable, especially if they have neck and lower back pain. For these people, sitting upright or lying on your side while doing breathing exercises may be better alternatives.
However, if you want to give pronation a try, here are some tips:
* Don’t try to pronate after a meal.
* Choose a firm surface to lie on. Soft beds can make lying on your stomach even more uncomfortable for your back
* Turn your head to the side. Place a pillow under your stomach, feet, arms, and head for comfort.
*Make sure you have someone with you at all times, especially when trying this for the first time. Both you and your helper should wear a mask to minimize cross infection.
*Do not attempt to pronate with children under one year of age.
4. Move regularly
Even people with relatively mild COVID symptoms may continue to feel fatigued after other symptoms have resolved.
Doing simple exercises regularly throughout the day while isolated can help minimize the effects of reduced mobility during COVID.
You can try sitting down on a chair and standing up, then repeat that for a minute. Or you could march in place for two minutes.
Pacing and prioritizing your activities to ensure you get regular activities throughout the day can also help manage your fatigue.
5. Know when to seek further medical attention
If you or a family member experience chest pain, shortness of breath despite home care, dizziness, new weakness in your face, arm, or leg, increased confusion, difficulty staying awake, or thoughts of self-harm, you should seek urgent medical attention. attention.
You can also use online symptom checkers to get advice on your immediate next action, including when to call an ambulance.
If your COVID symptoms last more than two weeks, see your local doctor. They may be able to refer you to a pulmonary (lung) rehabilitation service or a physical therapist who specializes in lung conditions.