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Intensive exercise is not harmful for people with a long corona crisis, research shows




Intensive exercise is not harmful for people with a long corona crisis, research shows

Although the World Health Organization has advised people with long Covid-19 to avoid vigorous exercise, a recent study found that different types of exercise were not harmful for people diagnosed with long Covid-19.

The study, published in JAMA network opened, included 31 patients with long Covid-19 (also known as post-Covid illness) who were matched with a control group of 31 healthy participants. They all completed several sessions of strength training, high-intensity interval training and moderate-intensity continuous training, spread over a period of several weeks.

“What we can see overall is that the post-COVID patients are doing as well as the controls, even though they had more symptoms to begin with. By just as well, I mean that they did not worsen their symptoms or negatively affect their bodies during the 48 hours we observed them,” said the study’s first author, Andrea Tryfonos, in a press release.

Tryfonos and colleagues noted that patients with long Covid-19 who opted for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) experienced more muscle soreness than the control group. While continuous moderate-intensity exercise was associated with concentration problems, 62% of the 31 tall patients had myopathy or inflammation in the muscles.

“People with post-COVID generally had lower fitness and muscle strength, which could be due to both the infection and lower activity. After two years of prolonged symptoms and discouragement from exercise, it is not surprising that you have lost some of your ability to work,” said Tryfonos, a researcher at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

Long-term Covid sufferers experience debilitating symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, headaches, sleep problems, dizziness, reduced sense of smell and taste, depression and anxiety. These symptoms last longer than three months and in some cases can last longer than a year. The WHO estimates that between 10% and 20% of people with Covid-19 suffer from a long period of Covid.

The WHO and other major public health organizations said long-term Covid symptoms could worsen after physical exertion and defined the phenomenon as post-exertional malaise (PEM).

“This has led to many healthcare professionals being reluctant to include exercise in rehabilitation programs for post-Covid patients. However, there is ample evidence that physical inactivity has a negative impact on health, including functional limitations within weeks and an increased risk of cardiometabolic disease in the long term. The latter places a significant burden on healthcare systems worldwide,” the researchers wrote in the study.

“Although several plausible factors have been proposed to explain exercise intolerance in individuals with post-Covid illness, including muscle atrophy, physical deconditioning, dysautonomia and increased inflammation, current trial data are limited,” she added.

To conduct further research, the team recruited study participants aged 18 to 64 through advertisements between September 2022 and July 2023. They closely monitored each participant’s training sessions and continuously took measurements of their oxygen saturation, heart rate and blood pressure.

“The key finding was that participants with post-Covid illness generally tolerated all exercise sessions without significant worsening of symptoms or decline in aerobic performance after 48 hours,” the researchers concluded.