Our animation on what to expect when recovering from Covid-19
There is much we are still learning about Covid-19 and one thing we know for certain is that the road to recovery isn’t always straightforward.
Don’t feel worried or discouraged if it takes a while to get your energy and fitness back. The following advice is designed to help you on your road to recovery.
Advice to help your recovery from Covid-19
While rest is important to recovery, it is also essential that you are as active as you can be to rebuild your strength. This will also help your lungs to recover.
It is common that energy levels are lower after a period of illness, so it is important to start rebuilding your routine and activities slowly.
Your body has been through an ordeal and it's going to take time to get back to what you were.
To start with, you may need to prioritise tasks you want to achieve each day, so choose goals that are important for you to achieve. For example, some people find getting dressed every day important, while others may want to get up and make a cup of tea.
Pace your activity throughout your day and rest between tasks if you need to. For example, shower and then rest to allow your breathing to settle before dressing.
Finding the balance between being active and resting may take time to get right, but building a daily routine can help you feel better. Try not rush or push yourself too hard, and don't feel discouraged if you experience a setback.
If you don't feel like your energy levels are returning, or activity is making you feel much worse, then speak to your GP or physiotherapist and ask them to assess you for Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome.
Feeling breathless while recovering from Covid-19
- If you’re doing activities which make you feel breathless, try breathing in before you make the effort, then breathe out during the effort. For example, blow out as you step up.
- Pursed lip breathing: breathe in gently through your nose, then purse your lips like you’re blowing bubbles or a candle out and breathe out through your pursed lips
There are many causes of breathlessness, and you may feel much more breathless than you used to before you were unwell, and some people may still have a chronic cough.
Resting for prolonged periods, whether in hospital or at home, can mean that your muscles may have become weaker and are not as ready to respond to exertion. It is this weakness that will contribute to your feelings of breathlessness.
You can work through some of the simple techniques in this video to help you manage breathlessness.
Your breathlessness should get better over time. If you feel it doesn’t, or it gets worse, seek medical help.
Getting stronger and being more active will help your recovery from Covid-19
These six simple strength exercises recommended by physiotherapy staff are a good way to start rebuilding muscle strength.
Physiotherapists recommended that you exercise little and often to start with, and build up to being more active.
Think about the activities you find hard now and what you’d like to be able to do in the future. Set yourself small goals and keep a record of them.
Download and print our activity planner to help you keep track of your progress.
You can also use activity apps or trackers on a mobile device.
As you’re able to do more exercise, don’t forget to choose something you enjoy! You’re much more likely to stick at keeping active if you’ve picked something you love doing.
If you're worried that things just don't feel right, be sure to discuss your concerns with your physiotherapist or your GP.
- NHS: Your Covid Recovery
- World Health Organisation: Support for Rehabilitation: Self-Management after COVID-19.
- Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation: Post-Covid hub
- The British Association for CFS/ME (BACME): Post-Viral Fatigue A Guide to Management (PDF)
- Royal College of Occupational Therapists: Recovering from COVID-19: Post viral-fatigue and conserving energy
Resources from our Community Rehabilitation Alliance partners
- Royal Osteoporosis Society: Exercise and physical activity for osteoporosis
Adult Cerebral Palsy Hub: Living with CP
World Health Organisation: Support for Rehabilitation: Self-Management after COVID-19.
The information on this page is designed for people who are recovering from Covid-19 and should be treated as complementary and secondary to recommendations you have received from a qualified medical professional.
If you have been discharged from hospital, you may also have a treatment plan or follow up physiotherapy sessions. If you have any concerns about rehabilitation or recovery, please speak to your physiotherapist, GP or healthcare professional.
If you think you may have coronavirus, please use the 111 online service to find out what to do next or call 111.