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Long Covid sufferers helped by six-week exercise programme

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An exercise programme can help people overcome symptoms of long Covid in just six weeks, a new study has found.

The programme—which increases in intensity from light exercise to strenuous workouts—helps long Covid sufferers have less ‘brain fog’ and fewer fatigue ‘crashes’ during the day.

It’s been tested on 31 people who have suffered from long Covid for 17 months or so, who had typical symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog and breathlessness, and who suffered around three ‘crashes’ a week when they were left exhausted after carrying out even simple mental or physical tasks.

After completing the six-week programme, the participants suffered just one exhaustion ‘crash’ a week, and they felt more mentally alert and were able to be more active and reported having a better quality of life.

The programme has six phases that increases in intensity.  Week one is rest or very light exercise; week two involves very light to moderate exercise, and the exercises become more rigorous during the following four weeks, with week six categorised as extremely hard and maximum exertion.

Clinicians from the University of Leeds monitored the progress of the participants, who were told never to exert themselves but to stay within their levels of tolerance.  Each of them was assessed at the end of the week to see if they were able to move up to the next level.

It was developed by Manoj Sivan from the university’s school of medicine on behalf of the World Health Organization to help people overcome long Covid, a condition that affects 2 million people in the UK alone.

Journal of Medical Virology, 2022; 94: 1419-27

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