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 make your recovery slower.

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 your illness has passed and you no longer have a high temperature (fever), try to find a balance between rest and activity. If you have extreme tiredness (fatigue) after COVID-19, 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 your 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 that you do the exercise.

Exercise such as walking improves 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 make your goals more manageable and then build them up again.

Gradually building up your activity

When you have started doing 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. You might then feel exhausted and not able to do anything the next day. This 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 (COVID-19) recovery, please speak to a doctor or nurse caring for you. Your discharge letter (the letter that you get when you leave hospital) should have their contact details.

Physiotherapy 
Phone: 020 7188 5082 or 020 7188 5089

Occupational therapy department 
St Thomas' Hospital, phone: 020 7188 4180
Guy's Hospital, phone: 020 7188 4185

Nutrition and dietetics department 
Phone: 020 7188 4128

Speech and language therapy department 
St Thomas' Hospital, phone: 020 7188 6246 
Guy's Hospital, phone: 020 7188 6233

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