Developing effective strategies to optimize physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness in the long Covid population- The need for caution and objective assessment

Mark A. Faghy*, Rae Duncan, Emily Hume, Lewis Gough, Clare Roscoe, Deepika Laddu, Ross Arena, Ruth E.M. Asthon, Caroline Dalton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The Post Covid-19 Condition (commonly known as Long Covid) has been defined by the World Health Organisation as occurring in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS CoV 2 infection, usually within 3 months from the onset of acute Covid-19 infection with symptoms that last for at least two months which cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis. Long Covid is associated with over two hundred recognised symptoms and affects tens of millions of people worldwide. Widely reported reductions in quality of life(QoL) and functional status are caused by extremely sensitive and cyclical symptom profiles that are augmented following exposure to physical, emotional, orthostatic, and cognitive stimuli. This manifestation prevents millions of people from engaging in routine activities of daily living (ADLs) and has important health and well-being, social and economic impacts. Post-exertional symptom exacerbation (PESE) (also known as post-exertional malaise) is an exacerbation in the severity of fatigue and other symptoms following physical, emotional, orthostatic and cognitive tasks. Typically, this will occur 24–72 h after “over-exertion” and can persist for several days and even weeks. It is a hallmark symptom of Long Covid with a reported prevalence of 86%. The debilitating nature of PESE prevents patients from engaging in physical activity which impacts functional status and QoL. In this review, the authors present an update to the literature relating to PESE in Long Covid and make the case for evidence-based guidelines that support the design and implementation of safe rehabilitation approaches for people with Long Covid. This review also considers the role of objective monitoring to quantify a patient's response to external stimuli which can be used to support the safe management of Long Covid and inform decisions relating to engagement with any stimuli that could prompt an exacerbation of symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalProgress in Cardiovascular Diseases
Early online date8 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Mar 2024

Cite this