Long Covid patients may benefit from a supervised, eight-week exercise programme better than the current standard self-managed rehabilitation recommendations, according to a study.
Commonly referred to as "long Covid" or "long-haul Covid," post-Covid-19 condition occurs when symptoms develop or persist three months after SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Common long Covid symptoms include brain fog, fatigue, shortness of breath and decline of mental health. Though estimated rates of people who develop long Covid vary, even the lower end of the range counts in the millions.
In an outpatient setting, long Covid interventions are currently limited to self-guided advice such as the WHO "Support for Rehabilitation: Self-Management after Covid-19-Related Illness" brochure.
The study, led by researchers at the University of Murcia in Spain, compared a supervised concurrent exercise approach to the self-guided brochure. Concurrent exercise was a combination of aerobic and strength training.
Groups of about 20 people each participated in one of four intervention types: supervised concurrent exercise, specialty breathing exercises, a combination of concurrent exercise and breathing exercises, or self-guided efforts following the WHO brochure.
The concurrent training involved two sessions a week of strength training and light to moderate variable intensity aerobic exercise and one session of light intensity continuous aerobic exercise.
More than 80 per cent of the concurrent exercise participants responded well to the intervention. Both groups that included the concurrent training showed greater reductions in long Covid symptoms compared to the other groups.
In addition, their fatigue and depression levels improved, and lower and upper body strength increased, the results published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed.