COVID-19 and Physical Activity

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that emerged in December 2019. The virus caused a worldwide pandemic of a respiratory illness. The disease is spread through droplets and virus particles, hence why the virus spread so drastically fast and was considered a pandemic. The way the virus spreads also explains the mask mandate, social distancing, and importance of hygiene.

Symptoms of COVID-19

The COVID-19 symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear after the exposure to the virus, however the infected person can be contagious from two days before the symptoms up to 10 days after.

Main COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue 

Some people might experience mild symptoms, some can be asymptomatic, but in some cases COVID-19 can cause a serious respiratory failure, lung, heart, central nervous system damage, or even death.

Can you exercise with a COVID-19 infection?

The ability to exercise while being infected with COVID-19 depends on the severity of your symptoms. It might be more difficult to carry on with the usual activities - you might feel more tired, be out of breath, or weak. You should start slow and set small goals.

If you’re asymptomatic

When you do not experience any symptoms you should be able to carry on with the usual physical activity. Although, if you start experiencing any symptoms or feeling worse you should stick to low intensity activities or stop completely.

If you have mild symptoms

When you have mild symptoms such as loss of smell and taste or sore throat, you can exercise, however you should stick to low intensity exercises. Such exercises can allow you to continue physical activity during illness and remain in a good headspace. You might feel weaker than usual while doing them. However, it is important to adjust your routine to the symptoms and overall well being to avoid worsening the condition. 

If you have severe symptoms

When experiencing severe symptoms you should refrain from any physical activity to avoid worsening the condition and hospitalisation. People with severe symptoms will most likely feel extremely weak and not want to exercise as the daily routine activities might feel too exhausting.

When should you see a doctor?

It is important to contact your doctor as soon as you contract the symptoms such as fever, cough, loss of smell and taste, fatigue, and suspect you might be infected, without going to the office to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. If you experience severe difficulties breathing, have shortness of breath you should seek emergency help, in the UK call 999, in the US and Canada 911, in Europe 112.


It is important to stay active before and during the COVID-19 infection. Physical activity can lower your risk of contracting the infection. While being infected physical activity can allow you to remain in a good headspace. However, physical activity with COVID-19 depends on the severity of symptoms and overall well-being. Asymptomatic people can continue with usual exercise, but those with severe symptoms should refrain from physical activity for the duration of symptoms and seek advice from the doctor on when to return and how.


  1. World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease (covid-19) [Internet]. World Health Organization. 2020. Available from:
  2. Sauer L. What Is coronavirus? [Internet]. John Hopkins Medicine. 2022. Available from:
  3. CDC. Novel Coronavirus 2019, Wuhan, China [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. Available from:
  4. Health Service Executive. Exercise while recovering from COVID-19 [Internet]. 2020. Available from:

Weronika Konarska

Bachelor of Science - BS, Zoology/Animal Biology, Swansea University

Weronika is a Zoology student with a passion for One Health approach and tackling infectious diseases.
She has previous scientific writing experience including animal welfare and medical content. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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