Blog Post: March 1st, 2021

By Jason Horras, Doctor of Physical Therapy

It’s been said, “Offense wins games. Defense wins championships.” Regardless of your football philosophy, we want you defending the ultimate home territory, the territory of your body. There’s been a lot of talk about preventing the Covid-19 virus, but one area of prevention that hasn’t received much attention is strengthening our bodies to fight the coronavirus and others like it. 

The CDC has informed the public that adults with certain underlying medical conditions such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart conditions, have an increased risk for severe illness from the Covid-19 virus. The good news is, regular physical activity reduces our risk of these conditions as well as reduces chances of depression, anxiety, dementia, and other chronic diseases.

Not only is exercise important in prevention of Covid-19, it’s important in recovery as well.

While most COVID-19 patients have short, self-limiting (~ 2 weeks) COVID-19 infections, a small but significant number experience symptoms for weeks or even months after contracting the virus. These issues include chronic fatigue, dyspnea (difficult or labored breathing), and chest pain, which lead to dramatic decreases in previously-held functional abilities. Exercise is a key component in addressing these symptoms and returning patients to full recovery.

To compound the issue, the pandemic has caused many people to decrease their activity level and to work from home with less-than-ideal work setups, both of which can decrease strength and increase pain in our joints and muscles.

So, what can we do about it? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. 

If only it were that simple, right? Most of us already know we need to exercise, but what we don’t know is where to start and what exercises are right for us. Often there is fear about the safety of exercising and how hard we can be pushed with lung conditions that can occur post-Covid. That’s where a physical therapist comes in. 

Our physical therapists are cardiopulmonary experts, and if you’re experiencing long-term, post-covid symptoms, you can use your insurance benefits to be seen just the same as a condition like back or knee pain. You don’t need a referral from your doctor to come see us.

The cardiopulmonary system is the primary area attacked with severe Covid-19. This system includes your heart, blood vessels, and lungs which supply oxygen-rich blood to your muscles which then use the oxygen to produce energy for movement.

The virus attacks the lungs and respiratory system, sometimes resulting in significant damage. COVID-19 often leads to pneumonia and even acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a severe lung injury.

To help the cardiopulmonary system get stronger, we implement a gradual return-to-exercise program with a focus on light aerobic exercise (walking, biking, or similar) and specific breathing exercises. As we progress, we’ll add resistance training, balance retraining, and other functional based exercises which are key to getting back to pre-covid levels of health and function.

The entire time you will be monitored for appropriate oxygen saturation, heart rate, and perceived exertion levels, meaning you can safely maximize your recovery with an expert helping you along the way.

If you’re experiencing chronic fatigue, on-going shortness of breath, lasting chest pain, muscle pain, joint pain, or limited-range of motion, request an appointment at any of our 13 locations. We’ll take a look at what you have going on and let you know what you need to get on the road to full recovery. No referral is needed, and scheduling is very flexible.