4 Tips for Recovering Health After COVID-19 Infection

recovering health after covid 19

Recovering full health after the COVID-19 infection can be painfully slow. The long-term effects of the virus can be felt for months after the infection has cleared.

Many survivors of moderate to severe COVID-19 infection experience prolonged symptoms, including breathlessness, fatigue, persistent coughing, body aches, insomnia, anxiety and depression. Our tips can help you expedite recovery.

The long-term impact of COVID-19

Although COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, it can have a lasting impact on nearly every organ and physiological system in the body. Due to the unpredictable nature of the virus, the enduring effects vary based on age, gender, overall health and the severity of the disease.

Respiratory and heart failure post-COVID-19

According to one retrospective study conducted after patients were released from hospital, more than a third of COVID survivors experienced respiratory failure, 12% had heart failure and 3% suffered a stroke caused by blood-clotting abnormalities.

Lung damage in asymptomatic patients

Nearly half of all the people afflicted with mild infection had abnormal liver function. This statistic jumped to 61% in moderate cases. Additionally, 50% of people with no symptoms at all showed signs of lung damage.

By all accounts, there’s little one can do to prevent the impact of long-term COVID-19. However, there are ways of expediting recovery, as you’ll see from the tips below.

1. Breathe mindfully

Shortage of breath is a common complaint. It can impact every aspect of life, from walking to talking.

The key is to learn how to breathe slowly and deeply. The ultimate goal is to dispel all the air from the lungs before taking the next breath.

There are several deep-breathing exercises that can help combat breathlessness. Inhaling and exhaling slowly in sync with your footsteps is a simple way of breathing mindfully.

2. Eat a high-protein diet

Fatigue, weight loss and muscle atrophy are common side-effects of the virus. These can be remedied with the right nutrition and an increased intake of calories.

Although COVID-19 survivors usually have poor appetites, it’s vitally important to eat several small portions of fresh fruit, vegetables and protein-rich foods every day.

The Mediterranean diet is an excellent example of a well-balanced and nutritional eating programme. In the worst-case scenario, protein shakes can be introduced to support the regeneration of healthy muscles.

According to dietician recommendations, recovering patients should double their normal protein intake and increase the number of calories by around 30%.

3. Get moving, slowly

One of the long-term effects of the virus is inflammation of the heart muscle. As a result, a measured return to mobility is required. Start with small tasks like washing the dishes or preparing a light meal.

Physical activity promotes healthy blood circulation, rehabilitates weak muscles, and prevents fluid and mucous build-up in the lungs.

Moving is a critical part of recovery. However, it’s crucial to do only what your body is comfortable with.

When it comes to fitness training and exercise regimes, experts recommend the 50/30/20/10 rule.

The normal exercise load is reduced by 50% in the first week, followed by 30%, 20% and 10% reductions in the following three weeks.

Expect to take a month or more to return to your normal (pre-COVID) level of physical activity.

4. Be kind to yourself

The mental and emotional effects of COVID-19 can be as destructive as the physical impact on the body. Anxiety, stress, fear and depression are often heightened, especially after long periods in isolation.

Seek help by talking to family and friends or get professional counselling. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) offers free telephonic counselling.

Links to several emergency help lines are available on the SADAG website.

Practise mediation or yoga, keep a diary or actively seek out the things that bring joy to help manage negative feelings and emotions.

Full COVID-19 recovery requires patience, love and care from the people around you. With the right attitude and a steady progression towards normal life, it’s possible to reach optimal health and wellness again.


If you’re recovering your health after COVID-19 infection, it’s essential you have the best medical aid coverage.

At IFC, we offer informed, objective advice about South African medical aid schemes and can assist you in joining the scheme that best suits your needs and budget. Contact us for more information or to discuss your needs.

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