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Exercising After COVID-19: How I'm Continuing My Weight Loss at Home

I was keen not to let COVID-19 disrupt my workout regime more than necessary. Here's what I did.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

I only recently picked up my exercise routine for losing weight at home. I'd lost a good few pounds and was in much better shape after using Apple Fitness and other services at home, but moving house and other life events got in the way. And now something else has disrupted my health goals: I caught COVID-19. 

It's been my first time getting it, so I should count myself lucky, and though I felt truly unwell for the first four or five days, despite having had all available vaccines and boosters, I've been steadily getting back to normal. But it threw up another hurdle in my exercise routine, and as I've explained before, I'm a creature of habit; once I break a cycle, I often struggle to get back on a good footing. 

So I've been trying to balance my desire to get back to exercise as soon as I can with the frankly more important issue of allowing myself time to fully recover from the virus. While many people experience COVID-19 symptoms to differing degrees, advice remains that it's important to avoid strenuous activity -- or anything that could leave you breathless -- while you're recovering, to avoid inflammation in the lungs and potentially encouraging symptoms of long COVID. 

Here's how I changed my approach. 

Image showing negative Covid-19 lateral flow test.

I didn't begin any serious exercise until I'd tested negative and had no more symptoms of COVID-19.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

The first week when I was really feeling the symptoms, I of course stayed at home. I avoided physical activity almost altogether, and even into the second week, once I started to feel better, I still kept movement to a minimum. 

After 10 days I was feeling much more back to normal, with none of the main COVID symptoms (my cough had entirely gone), and my lateral flow tests showed as negative. Still, I felt quite weakened, and I noticed I felt tired even walking to the shops nearby. But I persevered with these short walks at first. A mile or so here and there, gradually building up the distance. 

Image showing footpath leading into hillsides.

I started off with short, local walks, before building up into longer hikes.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

Walking is a great exercise as it allows you to go at your own pace, avoiding breathlessness and adjusting your routes and pace as you feel comfortable building it up. After another week I found that I felt much more capable of doing 5- to 6-mile walks without feeling overly tired as a result.

I then felt confident moving things forward and transitioning to my exercise bike. Throughout my fitness journey I've been using a Wattbike Atom; a superb and comfortable indoor static bike that I especially love riding while using the Zwift app on my iPad. It's been a real lifeline for my at-home workouts and it could again give me a great way to gradually increase my activity levels in a safe way. 

Cycling on the Wattbike Atom static exercise bike.

The Wattbike Atom offers a smooth and comfortable indoor-cycling experience.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

As with my walking I started out small; a 20-minute cycle for my first ride, which I did find a bit much and was a bit wheezy afterward. So I altered it by still doing 20 minutes, but at a more gentle pace, building up both the pace and the duration as I progressed. I preferred using the Wattbike at home because it let me stop anytime I felt I'd gone too far -- if I did that outdoors on my regular bike, I'd still have to get home if I felt I needed to stop halfway through the route.

Which brings me to now, about five weeks after COVID really took hold of me. I'm confident in feeling back to full health and having maintained my desire to keep exercising, rather than allowing the break to derail me entirely, as breaks have done for me in the past. I have gained some weight since my wedding in early April (who among us can say they haven't gained weight after a wedding?), but I'm happy that my approach to gently getting back into fitness has kept me healthy and has got me on the right track toward reaching my goals.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.