Skip to main content

You are here

Long COVID

Managing your energy

Tiredness (fatigue) is common after having COVID-19. Some people might feel a little bit tired, while others might feel very tired, to the point of exhaustion. You might find that your tiredness comes and goes. 

On this page:

Why do I feel exhausted and run out of energy easily?

You might:

  • be sleeping more
  • feel unsteady on your feet
  • not be able to stand for very long
  • not be able to concentrate very well
  • notice that your memory isn’t as good as it usually is.

What can I do to help my fatigue?

There are plenty of things you can do help your fatigue, including getting yourself into a routine and slowly getting more active.

For more tips on how to manage post-viral fatigue after having COVID-19, visit the Royal College of Occupational Therapists’ website.

You can also read about spoons theory, which is a way to allocate your energy (spoons) to your daily tasks. This might also help your family and friends understand how your fatigue affects you.

Remember, you can also use breathing techniques to help you do things if you get breathless when you’re more active.

The NHS has more information on what you can do about fatigue if you’re recovering from COVID-19.

When you feel ready to be more active 

Being ill with coronavirus can mean you’re inactive and lose muscle strength, particularly in your legs. At first, you’ll need plenty of rest.

As you begin to feel better, you can start to be a bit more active, but don’t push yourself too hard. Try to do little and often.

You could exercise when you’re in bed. Try moving your legs, circling your ankles and punching your arms up in the air and out in front of you. Moving to sit on the edge of the bed is also exercise at this stage.

If you’re ready, get out of bed and move around for a few minutes. As your symptoms improve and you have more energy, you could gradually increase your activity. But if you are too breathless to speak, slow down until your breathing improves. Try not to not get so breathless that you have to stop immediately. Remember to pace yourself.

Start to do your usual daily activities gradually and slowly to strengthen your muscles – and to improve your mental health. This animation from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy explains what you can expect when you’re recovering from COVID-19.

Speak to your doctor about getting referred to a respiratory physiotherapist or post-COVID rehab to help you with exercise as you recover. If you have no long-term conditions, being active will also help with your breathlessness. You might find you get out of breath when you’re active – this is not harmful, it’s normal.

If you have a long-term condition, especially one affecting your heart or lungs, speak to your health care professional about how you can safely exercise, as well as how to tell the difference between Long COVID and your other condition.

As you do more, you may find you get more breathless. This is normal. By moving your body, you can make your breathing muscles stronger, and all your muscles will start to use oxygen more efficiently. This means your breathlessness will decrease or get easier.

Watch our series of videos on physical activity, if you feel ready.

When will I get back to normal after having COVID-19?

Some people recover from coronavirus in a few weeks, but for others it can take much longer. It can be hard to cope if you are feeling unwell for a long time.

Try to set small, achievable goals like walking a few steps further each day, or making a healthy meal. This will help you gradually increase what you can do at a time. It’s important to set achievable goals, so you can track your progress and keep up your motivation.

Ask for help from friends and family if you need to. Doing too much too soon could set your recovery back, so it’s important to listen to your body. It’ll tell you if it’s tired or in pain, so rest when you need to and be prepared to work your way back to fitness gradually.

 

Next: Watch movement


We’ve developed this information with funding from Garfield Weston Foundation. The Foundation had no influence on the information, which was developed in line with our usual BLF information production process.

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.