Building up your strength

Coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery

When you are recovering from coronavirus (COVID-19), it's important to get more rest than usual. This is because your body needs time to heal.

However, having too much rest months after the infection has gone can slow down your recovery. This is because the less you use your muscles, the weaker they become. Resting too much makes your tiredness worse in the long term. 

  • People rest because they are tired, but this weakens their muscles.
  • Having weaker muscles makes it even more tiring to do anything.
  • They then start to avoid activity because it makes them feel tired.
  • The more they avoid activity, the weaker their muscles become and the more tired they feel.

After the worst of the illness has passed, and your high temperature (fever) has gone down, it is important to find a balance between rest and activity. If you have extreme tiredness (fatigue) after coronavirus, you need to build up your activity slowly.

Balancing activity and rest

Finding a balance between rest and activity can be difficult at first, but it is important to start doing things again gradually.

Start at a pace that feels comfortable or easy for you. You might have been able to do a lot in the past, but need to be realistic in your goals while you recover.

Be consistent, and do small amounts of activity regularly. A short walk or a few sit-to-stand exercises each day can help you to get started.

A sit-to-stand exercise involves standing from a seated position. It strengthens legs, stomach and back muscles. Gently build strength by using the arms of the chair to help you stand at first. As you get stronger, try the exercise without this support and build up the number of times you do the exercise.

Exercise such as walking increases your fitness and helps to reduce tiredness. Things might get slightly worse before they get better, but try to stay motivated.

If you struggle, you can reduce your goals to a more manageable level and then build them up again.

Gradually building up your activity

When you have built up a consistent approach to activities again, think about doing a little more. Try to build up your activity gradually and consistently with small steps.

Avoid doing a lot on a good day. This can often lead to you feeling exhausted and not able to do anything the next day. That can affect your confidence.

Try to increase your activity gently, day by day.

Resource number: 5122/VER1
Last reviewed: January 2021
Next review date: December 2023

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about your coronavirus recovery, please speak to a doctor or nurse caring for you. Your discharge letter should have their contact information.

Physiotherapy, phone 020 7188 5082 or 020 7188 5089

Occupational therapy department at St Thomas' Hospital, phone 020 7188 4180

Occupational therapy department at Guy's Hospital, phone 020 7188 4185

Nutrition and dietetics department, phone 020 7188 4128

Speech and language therapy department at St Thomas' Hospital, phone 020 7188 6246

Speech and language therapy department at Guy's Hospital, phone 020 7188 6233

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