Study shows exercise feasible for people recovering from COVID-19

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In a pivotal study conducted by the Karolinska Institutet and published in JAMA Network Open, new findings suggest that individuals suffering from post-COVID conditions may not need to completely avoid exercise, contrary to previous advisories from health organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO).

This revelation could significantly alter the current approach to post-COVID rehabilitation and management.

The research team, led by Andrea Tryfonos, recruited 31 post-COVID patients who had been experiencing prolonged symptoms such as severe fatigue, difficulty breathing, elevated resting heart rate, and muscle weakness—symptoms that were believed to worsen with physical exertion.

To draw accurate comparisons, 31 individuals without post-COVID, matched by age and sex, were also included in the study.

Participants underwent a series of exercise tests, including high-intensity interval training, moderate-intensity continuous training, and strength training, with sessions spaced a few weeks apart.

They were closely monitored before, immediately after, and 48 hours following each exercise session. This comprehensive evaluation encompassed symptom assessments, blood tests, heart ultrasounds, lung function tests (spirometry), muscle strength evaluations, neurophysiological testing, and muscle biopsies.

Contrary to initial apprehensions, the study uncovered that post-COVID patients were able to engage in exercise without exacerbating their symptoms or negatively impacting their health within the observation period, compared to their non-post-COVID counterparts.

This finding is particularly noteworthy as it challenges the prevailing notion that exercise could be detrimental to individuals with post-COVID conditions.

However, the study also highlighted significant fitness and muscle strength disparities between post-COVID patients and the control group, attributed to the prolonged inactivity enforced by earlier exercise advisories.

Remarkably, 62% of post-COVID participants exhibited signs of myopathy—a muscle condition that hinders muscle function—suggesting that the impact of the virus goes beyond mere inactivity.

Given these insights, Tryfonos advocates for a reassessment of the exercise recommendations for post-COVID patients.

The study suggests that, rather than discouraging physical activity, patients should be motivated to gradually engage in exercises they enjoy, under proper supervision to ensure safety and adaptability to individual capabilities.

This study not only sheds light on the potential benefits of exercise for post-COVID recovery but also opens the door for further research into tailored rehabilitation programs.

It emphasizes the need for a nuanced understanding of post-COVID conditions and the role of exercise in healing and restoring quality of life for those affected.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to severe COVID-19, death, and how diets could help manage post-COVID syndrome.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about COVID infection and vaccination linked to heart disease, and results showing extracts from two wild plants can inhibit COVID-19 virus.

The research findings can be found in JAMA Network Open.

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