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Should I Rest or Exercise After a Concussion?

The newest research shows that complete rest lasting longer than 2 days can lead to prolonged recovery.

Over the years, recommendations have changed considerably on when it’s okay to exercise after a concussion. It went from no physical activity until all concussion symptoms were gone at rest, to full rest for at least 2 weeks after a concussion.

Now, the newest research shows that complete rest lasting longer than 2 days can lead to prolonged recovery. So, to speed up your concussion recovery, it is highly recommended to do moderate exercise within the first week following a concussion.

What are the benefits of exercise 24-48 hours following a concussion?

  • Improves brain function by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain, and producing chemicals that stimulate cell growth and improve neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to modify its connections or re-wire itself – memory, creation, writing, etc).

  • Speeds up concussion recovery.

  • Improves mental health, and decreases anxiety and depression.

  • Improves sleep.

  • Improves cognitive performance.

What are the potential problems with too much rest and no physical activity?

  • Delayed recovery

  • Fatigue

  • Depression

  • Deconditioning

What exercises can you do?

  • Walking (at a good speed so that your heart rate increases)

  • Cycling / Stationary bike / Elliptical machine

  • Yoga / Pilates

  • Swimming

  • Squats, lunges

Which exercises should I avoid?

  • Any activities that cause your head or body to jolt, such as contact sport, running, and jumping.

IMPORTANT! Check in with your symptoms

If you notice a worsening of 3 symptoms, such as a headache, nausea, and dizziness, then you must take a step back or stop. Try practicing intervals where you can practice breathing for a few minutes and then try again. Even exercising for just 5 minutes, if that’s all you can tolerate, is absolutely worth doing. The important thing is to keep exercising. Your brain needs that post-exercise cognitive boost to heal.

I highly recommend you get cleared by a primary care provider, such as your family physician or an Athletic Therapist, before returning to contact sports or activity. There is an increased risk of repeat concussion (i.e. reinjury) if you go back too soon when your brain is not fully healed.

Feel free to contact one of our Athletic Therapists should you have any questions, or want an assessment of your concussion and a treatment plan.

Yours in health,
Valerie Beaulieu
Clinic Founder/CEO/CAT(C)
Life Coach


ProActive Blog

Should I Rest or Exercise After a Concussion?

The newest research shows that complete rest lasting longer than 2 days can lead to prolonged recovery.

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