Long Covid: Regular exercise key to recovery, experts say

KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 — While most people have recovered relatively unscathed from Covid-19, some have experienced long-term effects of the infection, including symptoms associated with prolonged Covid or post-Covid-19 syndrome.

And, according to an infectious disease expert, many patients with long-term Covid-19 infections have reported significant declines in their health.

Professor James Koh Kwee Choy, Consultant Infectious Disease Specialist and Professor of Medicine at the International Medical University, said that while many factors can affect everyone’s long-term Covid experience, in general, people who are ill-suited to start or have cardiovascular or respiratory conditions are more likely to develop Covid-19. serious illness. Compromise of their fitness level.

However, he added that even relatively healthy people with mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 are reported to have significantly worse health after Covid-19.

Recovery depends on many factors

Commenting on chronic Covid, Dr Koh said the impact of Covid-19 is not limited to the respiratory system – the primary target of SARS-CoV2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) – but can also extend to other systems including cardiovascular, skin Pathology, Musculoskeletal and Nervous System.

“While most people recover relatively unscathed from Covid-19, some do experience long-term effects of the infection, including symptoms associated with long-term Covid syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome.

“According to medical data, a person is said to have chronic Covid if symptoms persist for more than 12 weeks after recovering from Covid-19 infection. People experience a variety of conditions such as fatigue, persistent shortness of breath and chest pain or tightness. Some People also have inattention problems and other symptoms,” he told Bernama.

Many of these symptoms are subjective and not easily detectable by routine tests such as electrocardiograms and ultrasounds, making it difficult to identify reliable test markers that help diagnose long-term Covid effects, he added.

“We need to know that Covid-19 causes an excessive inflammatory response in the body, especially in the severe category of infections. How these responses affect or affect the recovery of the affected organs in the body is still largely unknown. Some patients recover completely, while others Some patients seem to have residual effects weeks and months later.

“The time it takes to fully recover (from prolonged Covid) depends on many factors, including whether other illnesses were present before (infection) with Covid-19,” he added.


Stressing that a person’s existing level of fitness may determine how quickly he or she recovers from Covid-19, Dr Koh noted the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a healthy diet, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

As for exercising after recovering from Covid-19, Dr Koh generally said that exercise is not recommended if the person still has symptoms. Those with heart or lung problems should consult their doctor before resuming exercise.

“There are some important issues to consider before starting exercise after Covid-19. Our biggest concern is the risk of myocarditis, a known complication in post-Covid-19 patients that can be fatal. Chest pain, palpitations and shortness of breath is a symptom of myocarditis. It’s important to listen to your body,” he advises.

Meanwhile, personal trainer and triathlete Shen Zhu believes that exercising is one of the best ways to get back to fitness levels after Covid-19.

After contracting and recovering from Covid-19 in March this year, Shen’s advice to those starting their fitness journey after Covid-19 is to start slowly and record how they feel after each workout. This will help determine what works for them and how their bodies respond.

“Start with gentle exercises like yoga stretches. You can do it even if you’re feeling down with Covid-19. It helps with circulation and will make you feel better. Stretching includes simple movements like arms Twist and hug your knees to your chest.

“Every time I move a little bit (when I’m down because of Covid-19), I feel a little better. There’s a lot of joint soreness, so when you mobilize yourself, you get circulation. Endorphins also play a role , which helps remove some of the pain,” she added.

However, Covid-19 affected Shen’s stamina. As a triathlete, Shen is used to running more than 10 kilometers, but after Covid-19, she found herself unable to run more than 3 kilometers.

“However, with regular gentle exercise, my body is slowly returning to normal,” she added.

At the same time, Dr Koh said the path to a full recovery after Covid-19 is very individual as it will depend on a person’s pre-existing fitness level and the presence of other comorbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity and habits such as smoking and excessive drinking.

“Some guidelines recommend increasing exercise load over several weeks to slowly return to fitness levels. Ideally, this should be done under the supervision of a trained person or by a doctor.

“It is true that people with few or no risk factors tend to return to their level of fitness more quickly. However, some patients never actually return to their pre-Covid-19 level of fitness, although given more time this may It is possible.

“But most importantly, any improvement in a person’s fitness level after Covid-19 is still considered beneficial,” he said. — Bernama


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