How to Recover from Long COVID

What is long COVID?

Long COVID describes the symptoms that continue or develop after the initial COVID-19 symptoms. This is usually longer than 12 weeks after a person is first infected. 

You may already be familiar with post-viral syndrome or post-viral fatigue. As the name suggests, post-viral syndrome typically occurs after a person experiences the effects of a virus. It can develop even after simple bouts of the flu or the common cold.

Once the person’s body has removed the virus, the post-viral syndrome may make them feel drained of energy and generally unwell. This feeling may linger for days to months after a viral infection.

Most people who get COVID-19 recover completely after 2 to 6 weeks and make a full recovery within 12 weeks. However, some people report a range of symptoms beyond the standard recovery time.

Symptoms can persist for weeks or sometimes months. They can include:

  • fatigue
  • breathlessness
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • chest tightness
  • chest pain
  • difficulty concentrating, cognitive impairment or ‘brain fog.’
  • difficulty sleeping
  • pins and needles
  • dizziness
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • and more…

Health coaching aims to support help you manage long covid; good topics to explore with your Health Coach are:

  • How you can support immune response and reduce inflammation
  • What steps can help you to reduce stress on the body – mental, physical and emotional
  • An action plan to help you minimise the burden on your body e to allow it to heal quickly (e.g. support underlying autoimmune conditions, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, infections, poor gut function…)

Actions you can take that will help:


Ensure your diet is anti-inflammatory, with sufficient protein to support repair and lots of good oils – olive, nuts, seeds, chia, flaxseeds etc. In your coaching session, you will be provided with an opportunity to explore dietary approaches for your individual needs.


Sleep hygiene, including reducing blue light from screens/TV/phones at least 2 hours before bed, is essential. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Your coach can explain more about the importance of sunlight and resetting your circadian rhythm in your session if you have trouble waking during the night.


It’s essential to include gentle to moderate activity to help speed up your recovery. It is equally important to schedule relaxing activities that allow you to decompress from your responsibilities and allow time to restore fully. Your coach can help you to plan which restorative practices are proper for you and explore options that you may not have tried before, such as NSDR (No sleep deep rest)


Keeping your stress levels under control is critical. When we are tired and wired, our stress response becomes hyper-vigilant, triggering a further inflammatory reaction in the body. Techniques such as box breathing or mindfulness can significantly reduce the impacts of this. Speak to your coach if these techniques are unfamiliar or require further guidance.

Red light therapy

May help you to get your taste back after Covid-19.
According to a new clinical study on PubMed, Photo biomodulation’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects may help people get their taste back after just ten therapy sessions!

Here’s the summary of the study:
“It is postulated that the inflammatory process resulting from SARS-CoV-2 infection is the main cause of smell and taste dysfunctions in patients. Given this, photo bio modulation, due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, maybe a promising therapeutic modality to treat these disorders. The present case report re-established the patient’s olfactory and gustatory functions after ten treatment sessions with photobiomodulation.”

Cold water therapy

Cold water immersion has anti-inflammatory effects on the body. It boosts cardiovascular circulation, which benefits a healthy heart, robust immune system, well-balanced mental health, and a high energy level. 

An early indication of the benefits of cold water immersion and swimming in cold water for long COVID look favourable. And one latest research stated that cold-water swimming and physical activity might not lessen the risk of COVID-19 in recreational athletes. However, a physically active lifestyle might have a positive effect on the rate of incidence of acute respiratory infection and the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. Ask your Health Coach for more details on incorporating this into your recovery plan.


Supplements can help you balance your immune response, reduce inflammation and help you address the aftermath of secondary infections. Health Coaches generally do not advise about supplements unless they hold other qualifications that allow them to do so. Health Coaches, however, are typically resourceful and often have information or referral partners to help you.


Regaining fitness after a COVID infection can be challenging. And it is not advisable to return to your pre-COVID exercise regime immediately.

Generally, most people can return to exercise and activities after being symptom-free for a minimum of seven days. If you are still experiencing symptoms two weeks after the initial infection, you need to seek medical advice from your GP as you may have developed a secondary infection.

After any infection, including COVID, it is normal to feel fatigued, as your body’s priority is using energy and resources to help you get better. However, it is essential to look after your muscles as they help keep you functional and support your organs, bones, tendons & immune system –all of which are essential to your health. So getting back to regular (all be it gentler) exercise is helpful to recovery.

Returning to Exercise after COVID

When you have been symptom-free for at least seven days, here are five top tips for resuming exercise:

Adopt an incremental return

Start by walking or gently cycling around the neighbourhood. Low-intensity activities such as mobility exercise, walking and cycling. Continue with these for 1-2 weeks, and take note of your energy levels before and after.

Resistance exercises 

In the early stages of recovery, your body is not ready for high-intensity Cardio exercises, but resistance training can help the production of hormones that boost your immune system. If you previously used weight for exercise training, it is essential that you dial back weight, reps and time under tension. Your trainer will be able to help you select exercises that train but don’t strain you.

Exertion and effort

We all want to make the maximum effort when we put the time aside to exercise. Right now, you must recognise and measure your exercise in terms of your level of exertion and not compare yourself to your pre-COVID performance. 

Perceived exertion is measured on a scale of 1 to 10. During exercise, it’s important to aim between 7 and 8; if an individual is rating at nine or higher, they need to reduce the intensity of their workout to avoid potential injury or overexertion.

COVID is indiscriminate and can affect fit, healthy and young people too. It’s essential to listen to your body. Only progress the intensity of your exercise and lengthen your exercise duration if you do not experience any new or returning symptoms after training.

You may require a rest day between exercise sessions to allow time for recovery.

Symptoms of concern

 If you experience chest pain, dizziness or difficulty with breathing during exercise, stop immediately. Seek urgent medical advice if symptoms persist after exercise. And if you experience increased fatigue after exercise, talk to your GP.

Next steps

For more information or to book an appointment with Sharon to develop a personalised plan – diet, lifestyle and exercise visit

Sharon Tomkins

Sharon is a New Zealand qualified Health Coach and Personal Trainer, as well as an ICF Certified Coach and Accredited Coaching Supervisor. Sharon was awarded the 'Health & Wellness Coach of the Year' 2022, by The Health Coaches Australia & New Zealand Association.
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