The Relationship between Physical Activity and Long COVID: A Cross-Sectional Study

The relationship between Long Covid (LC) symptoms and physical activity (PA) levels are unclear. In this cross-sectional study, we examined this association, and the advice that individuals with LC received on PA. Adults with LC were recruited via social media. The New Zealand physical activity questionnaire short form (NZPAQ-SF) was adapted to capture current and pre-COVID-19 PA levels and activities of daily living (ADLs). Participants reported how PA affected their symptoms, and what PA recommendations they had received from healthcare professionals and other resources; 477 participants completed the survey. Mean age (SD) was 45.69 (10.02) years, 89.1% female, 92.7% white, and median LC duration was 383.5 days (IQR: 168.25,427). Participants were less active than pre-COVID-19 (26.88 ± 74.85 vs. 361.68 ± 396.29 min per week, p < 0.001) and required more assistance with ADLs in a 7-day period compared to pre-COVID-19 (2.23 ± 2.83 vs. 0.11 ± 0.74 days requiring assistance, p < 0.001). No differences were found between the number of days of assistance required with ADLs, or the amount of PA, and the different durations of LC illness (p > 0.05). Participants reported the effect of PA on LC symptoms as: worsened (74.84%), improved (0.84%), mixed effect (20.96%), or no effect (28.72%). Participants received contradictory advice on whether to be physically active in LC. LC is associated with a reduction in PA and a loss of independence, with most participants reporting PA worsened LC symptoms. PA level reduction is independent of duration of LC. Research is needed to understand how to safely return to PA without worsening LC symptoms.

Source: The Relationship between Physical Activity and Long COVID: A Cross-Sectional Study

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