Rebecca Owen, Mark A. Faghy, Ruth E. M. Ashton, Francesco V. Ferraro


People who exhibit unhealthy lifestyle behaviours are at greater risk of severe disease outcomes, risk of hospitalisation and mortality when infected with COVID-19. Accordingly, it is suggested that those with higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness and who engage in regular physical activity (PA) are associated with a reduced risk of adverse outcomes. Although improved physiological function may protect individuals against severe acute COVID-19 outcomes, it is unknown whether it offers protection against developing sustained symptom profile, known as post-acute COVID-19 syndrome or Long COVID. Affecting an estimated 2 million people in the UK and 144 million globally, Long COVID is challenging healthcare services with broader social and economic impacts. Accordingly, this project aimed to determine the impact of PA status on Long COVID. An online survey was developed Utilizing adapted versions of preexisting Patient Re-ports Outcome Measures (Qualtrics, Provo, Utah, United States). Participants self-reported PA status in line with the World Health Organisation guidelines and their pre- and post-COVID-19 health status and symptom profile. A Mann-Whitney U test was used to analyse between-group responses, and a Wilcoxon Signed Rank test was used to analyse within-group responses. The survey was completed by 381 participants, of which n=253 reported meeting or exceeding the recommended guidelines of PA. A significant difference was found between pre- and post-COVID-19 health, whilst a Mann-Whitney U test concluded that there was no significant difference between PA groups and post-COVID-19 health status. According to the results, increased PA and cardiorespiratory fitness might offer protection against severe disease outcomes in the acute phase of infection but this does not offer full protection against developing a long-term symptom profile and increased mechanistic understanding of the physiological determinants is needed to restore the pre-COVID-19 status and assist in the development of multi-disciplinary interventions.


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Long COVID; COVID-19; rehabilitation; physical activity; health and wellbeing; sports therapy

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