Jess Scolieri, 37, is changing herself as she fights against long COVID.
As a former weightlifter and CrossFit enthusiast, Scolieri’s athletic abilities plummeted after she got COVID-19 in March of last year. She went from training six days per week to not training at all.
She is one of many coronavirus patients who have an increase in their symptoms after their exercise routine. Some researchers have discovered a connection between exercise intolerance and a certain SARS-CoV-2 S1 protein, while others have discovered that exercising can lower long COVID fatigue.
Some athletes with long COVID are slowly getting back to their fitness routines while keeping mindful of their energy levels.
In the months after catching the virus, she experienced worsening symptoms—most of them neurological while others were heart related. Scolieri then continued to watch her diet and exercise to avoid new flare ups of symptoms. Her symptoms were similar to those connected to postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), such as palpitations and lightheadedness.
She now incorporates some exercise, around 10 minutes of stationary cycling in her routine. This exercise is easier on her spine compared to walking or running, she reports.
To avoid any flare ups, she works-out for just three days before then doing two days of rest.
A recent research study revealed that exercise intolerance was common among people with long COVID. It is largely because of the SARS-CoV-2 S1 protein, which is seen inside endothelial cells that is moved by exercise.
Bruce Patterson, MD, a virologist who led the research, says that when these cells are moved, they can infiltrate someone’s blood brain barrier and lead to vascular inflammation within the brain.
Patterson does not say a person should exercise early in their recovery. Some clinics support exercise for people with long COVID, which “could not be worse for these people,” he adds.
“Patients should return to exercise, but only after treatment and testing shows cytokine levels have gone back to normal,” Patterson says. “Otherwise, exercise will possibly do far more damage than good.”
If you workout and have had covid, talk with your doctor about how exercise could be affecting your recovery.
Author: Scott Dowdy