Long Covid: Returning to an active lifestyle ‘too quickly’ could slow recovery – expert

Long Covid victim discusses daily impact of virus

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Consultant in respiratory medicine, Dr Brian O’Connor – who is also lead for the long Covid clinic at Cromwell Hospital in London – described the majority of patients as suffering with fatigue, muscle aches, chest pain and breathlessness. He said: “Some days they can have a lot of energy and others they have none at all. Sleeping patterns tend to also be affected with patients reporting they’re struggling to sleep, and others finding they’re sleeping too much.”

Perhaps surprisingly though, is the type of person who is most affected by long Covid.

Dr O’Connor explained that most patients are younger than those who were initially vulnerable to coronavirus.

“The majority of patients we’re seeing with long Covid are those who have had mild symptoms of COVID-19,” he stated.

“These tend to be the younger, dynamic individuals ranging from mid-20s to mid-50s.

“A particular theme we’re seeing with these individuals is that they’re returning to a very active lifestyle too quickly after having COVID-19, such as going back to work full time or taking up high intensity exercise.

“This could potentially be a reason why they are suffering from long Covid.”

The consultant warned that mothers were hardest hit.

He said: “The most common demographic we’re seeing in our clinic is women, aged between mid-20s to mid-50s.


“These women tend to be high achieving and often have children.

“Again, the reason they perhaps suffer most with long Covid could be due to the fact they’re returning to a full-on lifestyle too quickly and not allowing their bodies to recover.”

He advised that people with long Covid “go at their own pace”.

“As highlighted, long COVID tends to affect people with milder symptoms,” he said.

“So it’s incredibly important to take your recovery at your own speed.

“You shouldn’t rush back to your usual fast paced lifestyle, this includes working full time, caring for others and high intensity exercising. Instead be kind to yourself and try and do things in manageable timeframes.

“Make sure you’re exercising – Whether this is a walk round the block or simply stretching, making sure you have exercise in your routine will help maintain and build up strength in your muscles.

“Once you feel happy to, gradually build up the length and intensity of your exercise regime.

“It’s not just the physical benefits, exercise also helps with boosting your mood and can help alleviate some mental health concerns associated with long Covid.”

The NHS advises contacting your GP if you’re worried about symptoms that have lasted four weeks or more after you had COVID-19.

You may be given help about how to manage and monitor your symptoms at home.

If the symptoms are having a big impact on your life, you may be referred to a specialist rehabilitation service or a service that specialises in the specific symptoms you have.

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