Winchester researchers look into effects of movement on long covid sufferers

18 Jul 2023

The University of Winchester is taking part in a new study to find out if low levels of movement may benefit the nearly two million UK sufferers of long Covid.

Winchester is working with the University of Gloucestershire and the NHS on a study to investigate the effects of uninterrupted sitting on health of people with long Covid.

Previous research has shown that sitting for two hours worsens cardiovascular health and cognitive function in healthy people, but interrupting this sitting period with low levels of movement, such as regular ‘leg fidgeting’, can mitigate these changes.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) define long Covid as signs and symptoms of COVID-19 that persist for at least four weeks and are not explained by alternative diagnosis. Data from the Office for National Statistics indicates that 1.9 million people in the UK had reported suffering symptoms of long Covid.

Patients with long Covid can experience a wide variety of symptoms, including dizziness, headaches, breathing issues, and muscle and joint pain, that can lead to an increase in sedentary behaviour, such as prolonged uninterrupted sitting.

The study came out of research that University of Winchester PhD student Nick Hudson was doing on physical activity and sedentary behaviour and the study began with referrals from local GP surgeries and the Southern Health Long Covid Clinic.

Professor James Faulkner, Professor in Exercise Physiology at the University of Winchester, said: “We have designed this study in collaboration with people who have been living with long Covid and with healthcare professionals who are regularly working with this group of people to help support them in the understanding of their condition.”

Dr Simon Fryer, Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the University of Gloucestershire, said: “Our new collaborative multi-centre study with the University of Winchester, and the NHS in Hampshire and Gloucestershire, hopes to improve the lives of patients with long Covid by determining whether light bouts of movement can improve various health issues.

“We believe the research could be potentially life-changing for millions of long Covid sufferers.”

James and Nick would like to hear from anyone long Covid sufferers within easy travelling distance of Winchester who would like to take part in the study. Email and ‘long covid study’ in the subject field.

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