When can you play sports again after a corona infection?

The test is finally negative, the symptoms have subsided. After surviving the corona infection, most people want only one thing: Finally get out and participate in normal life. This of course also includes sports.

But is it really advisable to go back to sports immediately after a corona infection? Or do you have to wait a bit while exercising even though you are already feeling healthy and well again? FITBOOK asked Enrico Zessin, a doctor in training for internal medicine and sports medicine and a doctor in the German Athletics Federation.

You need to take a break from the sport – even if you have no symptoms

Anyone who has had a serious illness will neither feel able nor feel the need to get back into sports right away. But what about a mild infection? “Even if no symptoms occurred during the corona infection, you should avoid sports for two weeks. If the course is mild, one should wait for at least seven days after the symptoms have ceased and not exert oneself intensively,” explains Zessin.

Why is a sports break even without symptoms absolutely necessary? “A corona infection is a systemic disease. This means that the virus spreads throughout the body via the bloodstream and can therefore affect all organs. Viruses also circulate close to the heart and lungs, where they can get stuck and cause damage, and it is therefore important to avoid intense stress to protect the organs.Otherwise, there is a risk of complications such as B. an inflammation of the heart muscle.

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Is myocarditis dangerous?

“Mild inflammation of the heart muscle is not uncommon and can also occur with other systemic diseases,” explains the expert. “The whole heart muscle is rarely affected, but small areas of the heart muscle, individual muscle fibers. If the heart is then pushed to the extreme through intense sports, major damage to the heart muscle can occur.” The insidious thing about myocarditis: “We only notice it when the heart muscle is affected on a larger scale.” the heart is not only stopped to recover, it is important to keep the stress as low as possible to protect the heart and let the heart muscle heal properly.

Also interesting: Can a corona vaccination lead to myocarditis?

Panic is still inappropriate, according to the doctor: “Competitive athletes more often have myocarditis in their lives. It is nothing out of the ordinary. If you have had the flu or another serious respiratory infection, it is not uncommon for there to be a mild inflammation of the heart muscle fibers. ” Caution is always required and therefore the following applies to all serious infections and fever: break from training!

But not only the heart needs time to regenerate. The lung tissue may also have been affected by a coronary infection and should therefore not be stressed by intense sports: “Even if you have not had a severe cough, the lung mucosa is usually infected and attacked by viruses, so it first has to regenerate,” said the doctor.

Gentle exercise can promote healing

Although a lot of sleep and rest is important: it is still not advisable to give up training altogether – on the contrary. Zessin: “This is often one of the reasons why most people need several weeks after quarantine to get really fit again: they have not done anything for two weeks. As endurance drops extremely. When you go up up stairs for the first time, your heart rate rises and your lungs wheeze, many people get scared and do even less.Some then think they are suffering from Long Covid but in fact they just have a bad training condition.

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If you no longer have any symptoms, you should put stress on your body again very slowly and in a structured way. The sports doctor recommends light training to get started, e.g. B. Mobility exercises, relaxed yoga and stretching. Cardio training with a very low heart rate can also help to get in shape again. “This keeps the muscles moving, the blood circulation is promoted and the lungs are better ventilated.” The healing process can be accelerated in this way.

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However, if you continue to feel sick and have severe symptoms after getting over the corona infection, you should definitely get a doctor to check you up. Organic damage can be ruled out by taking a blood sample, internal examinations, a stress ECG and, if necessary, a heart ultrasound.

Are you more receptive to Corona after training?

Whether it’s in the gym, during team training in a club or in a yoga class: the danger of getting infected with the virus lurks everywhere. But does exercise make you more susceptible to infections? At least that’s what the “open window phenomenon” says.

Zessin explains the phenomenon known in sports medicine: “If you strain your body violently for a long time, structural damage occurs, e.g. B. slight muscle and soft tissue injury after a marathon. About two to three hours after stress, the immune system begins to give up its resources for the repair mechanisms. Depending on how severe the stress was, this can last up to 72 hours. Therefore, there are no longer sufficient resources to elicit a major immune response to pathogens such as bacteria or viruses. Therefore, you should always dress warmly for long, intensive units and protect yourself well from the common cold and give the body enough nutrition for the immune system and the ongoing repair and regeneration processes through food and drink. “

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However, this only applies to long and very intensive training sessions. “It’s not relevant for three quarters of a workout in the gym,” says the expert.

Still, regular exercisers have a crucial advantage over untrained people: “Highly athletic people have a shorter recovery time because their bodies are used to dealing with physical stress and structural injuries such as sore muscles. Therefore, sporty people can often compensate for a corona infection. much better and regenerate much faster. “

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