Managing daily activities

Coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery

When you are recovering from coronavirus (COVID-19), it's important to help your body to recover. Your body needs time to heal, so you might need to rest more than usual. However, having too much rest after the infection has gone, can make your recovery slower.

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 and get good quality rest.

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.
  • Then they 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.

Balancing activity and rest

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

Activity is when you are doing things that include using different parts of your body and mind, such as talking to people, or moving about.

Rest is when the body and mind are completely relaxed and free of any stimulation. 

Start at a pace that feels comfortable or easy for you. You might have been able to do a lot in the past, but you 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.

You can watch our film about balancing rest and activity, to get some tips.

Gradually building up your activity and strength

When you have started doing activities again, think about doing a little more, and see how your body reacts. Try to build up your activity gradually and consistently with small steps.

Having 'good days' and 'bad days' is normal. Avoid doing a lot on a day when you feel good. You might then feel exhausted and not able to do anything the next day. This can affect your confidence.

When you're recovering, you should listen to your body. You can use the traffic light system to increase your activity gently, day by day.

RED. If your symptoms get worse, or you feel unwell after any activity or exercise, you must stop. You can try again on another day, and have a think about what exercise you can do? Do you need more help with everyday tasks? Do you need to take some time off work?

AMBER. If your symptoms are improving and you can complete some of your everyday tasks, test what your body can do and if it feels OK afterwards.

GREEN. If you no longer have symptoms, it’s still important to listen to your body. Your energy levels should be stable, or and gradually increasing, each week.

Watch our film about pacing your physical activity to learn more and get ideas and tips on how to increase your activity. You can see some exercise ideas on the on the Asthma+Lung UK website.

Getting good-quality rest

Good-quality rest will be different for everyone. We often think that we are resting when we are watching TV or looking at social media, but those still use up brain energy. You can watch our film about what rest is.

A common symptom after a virus is fatigue. Fatigue is described as extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness. Getting a good balance between activity and rest can prevent fatigue from worsening.

Resource number: 5122/VER2
Last reviewed: February 2024
Next review date: February 2027

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

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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