When Is It Safe to Return to Sports After a COVID-19 Infection?
October 6, 2020 by Thomas Finn, DO
After being sick, we all want to get back in the game. For adults, it may be running a few miles, lifting weights or fitness classes. For our kids, it’s youth and high school sports and dance.
Before you get back in the game, medical experts recommend taking some extra time and caution before returning to sports and exercise after recovering from COVID-19.
The medical community is still learning about the long-term effects of COVID-19, but we do know the virus can cause damage to the heart. The most common heart problem is inflammation of the heart muscle, knowns as myocarditis. This can lead to heart failure or an abnormal heart rhythm.
The good news is that most otherwise healthy people should be able to safely return to sports and exercise after a restriction of activity and medical supervision.
Follow these simple guidelines:
- Do not exercise for at least 14 days after symptoms resolve before restarting your exercise program.
- Youth and adult athletes who have tested positive for COVID-19 should be evaluated by their primary care provider to clear them to play competitive sports and do high intensity exercise.
These precautions are very important for high school and college athletes, as well as adults, who participate in high intensity exercise. Even if you’ve had mild symptoms or none at all, you should take these precautions.
When you make an appointment, make sure 14 days have passed since symptoms began and you feel better. This means you have no fever and your symptoms have been improving for 24 hours. We want to make sure you are recovered from COVID-19 and no longer contagious before you come to the clinic to see your primary care provider.
During your visit, your provider will:
- Do a physical exam
- Ask about ongoing symptoms
- Review severity of your illness
- Review underlying conditions and risk factors
- Consider your age
Your medical provider may order an electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure your heart rate and rhythm. An ECG is one test that can detect a heart problem.
Our goal is to help everyone return to sports and exercise in the safest way possible. With a little extra time, a gradual return to exercise and medical supervision, we can help you get back in the game and doing the sports and activities you love.
Learn more about Sports Medicine.