The first in-depth study exploring the role that physical activity plays in helping people living with long Covid has been carried out by academics from a university in Yorkshire.
The results comes as more than a year into the global pandemic, one in 10 of people who catch COVID-19, will still be suffering physical and psychological side effects months later.
While it’s been estimated that Long Covid - people having symptoms going on beyond 12 weeks - could cost the UK around £2.5bn a year.
Experts predict we are now entering a second worldwide health crisis with more than 10 million people predicted to develop the condition around the world.
Now in the first study of its kind academics from Sheffield Hallam University explored the role that physical activity plays in the experiences of people living with long Covid.
Dr Helen Humphreys, the study lead, said the research which includes detailed accounts from 18 participants around the world, gives a "heartbreaking" insight into the challenges of carrying out physical activity alongside the wide range of ongoing symptoms associated with long Covid.
She highlighted many recovering COVID-19 patients reported suffering from long-term symptoms of lung damage, including breathlessness, coughing, fatigue and limited ability to exercise.
She added several of the patients fatigue meant simple tasks such as dropping children off at school, or preparing dinner became "difficult".
Dr Humphreys told The Yorkshire Post: "The study really was a deep dive into people's experiences.
"One of the key messages to come out is around the whole lack of understanding around Long Covid and how differently long-term symptoms can vary for each individual.
"A lot of people said they did not really knowing how to manage Long Covid and the fact it affects people so differently meant it's not one size fits all. It's very difficult to get really clear advice about how to manage your syptoms and what is best to do. There isn't a text book way of dealing with it."
Dr Humphreys said due to the "huge impact" the condition can have on people's lives the Government needed to invest in more “critical research” to understand Long Covid.
She told The Yorkshire Post: “We really urgently need more research to understand why people are getting this in the first place and why people differ so much in their recovery.
“What works for people because in terms of physical activity - some can manage it better.”
Currently there are more than 60 Long Covid assessment clinics around the country and in February this year the national institute of health research announced £18.5m for four new Long Covid studies.
While welcoming the Government's developments Dr Humpreys added at the moment many long-covid sufferers faced a “postcode lottery” in terms of receiving support after diagnosis.
She said: “Our results showed that for some patients in England there was difficult to access key services and there might be some disparity and where you live.
“The condition is a massive unknown that we really need to get to grips with.
“We don't know how long people are going to suffer with long-covid - this could potentially be something significant that our healthcare services are going to be dealing with for a long time so we have to get to grips with it as quickly as possible."
The study was led by Dr Humphreys with support from Dr Laura Kilby and PhD student Nik Kudiersky.
It forms part of the RICOVR unit, based at Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, which works to provide knowledge and support to help people recover and rehabilitate from the effects of Covid-19
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