In a paper published recently by the American College of Sports Medicine, co-author William Roberts, MD, MS, FACSM, M Physicians family medicine physician, makes concrete suggestions for athletes of all levels, both in normal health and recovering from COVID-19.

“During this pandemic, it is essential for those with both normal health and chronic disease to be physically active for thirty to sixty minutes most days of the week,” Dr. Roberts says. 

While individuals may need to be creative as far as how to be physically active within the confines of social distancing, the paper suggests that maintaining physical activity is crucial to both the physical and mental health of individuals.

“But, while normal levels of physical activity may be feasible for those who are healthy, those who have recovered from COVID-19 may face additional challenges,” Dr. Roberts says.

Even individuals who were fit before their COVID-19 diagnosis may need a substantial amount of time to restore their initial level of fitness and should only do so based on guidance from their physician.

“Additionally, until there is an effective vaccine, finding the time and place to exercise safely will likely be a challenge for many,” Dr. Roberts says. “Though group exercise has many benefits, it isn’t necessarily safe in the current climate.”

One of the considerations that the paper points to is creating policies that set up guidelines for reintroducing group exercise and maintaining safe social distancing practices.

“In summary, activating the general population for the health benefits of physical activity may be challenging as we emerge from COVID-19, however, it is incredibly important,” Dr. Roberts says. “Increasing physical activity will require individuals and groups to walk a fine line between benefit and risk.”

Read the full paper, titled “COVID-19: Considerations for Sports and Physical Activity,” here.