These healthy lifestyle habits may cut risk of long COVID in half, Harvard study finds

Melissa Eide

A male jogs in Brooklyn, N.Y., in front of the skyline of lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge on Jan. 25

Adhering to a nutritious way of life may perhaps lower the hazard of establishing prolonged COVID, in accordance to a examine revealed on Monday in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Inside Medicine.

Scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan University of Community Overall health analyzed information from 1,981 feminine nurses who documented a optimistic SARS-CoV-2 test among April 2020 and November 2021. They then looked at 6 nutritious way of life components, including a wholesome overall body mass index (BMI) by no means cigarette smoking a high-excellent diet regime reasonable liquor intake regular exercise, which they define as at the very least 150 minutes of average to vigorous bodily exercise for every week and ample slumber, which they outline as seven to nine several hours of slumber per evening.

The study uncovered that participants who adhered to five or six of these “modifiable possibility factors” ahead of contracting COVID-19 experienced 49% much less likelihood of going on to develop extended COVID in comparison to all those who adhered to none. Of the six way of life components, nutritious human body body weight and acquiring enough rest experienced the strongest association with a lower hazard of very long COVID.

A technician in a blue gown inserts a probe into the nostrils of a man at a booth marked: COVID-19 Testing.

A person is examined at a COVID-19 tests issue on June 6, 2022, in New York. (John Smith/VIEWpress via Getty Photos)

For participants who did create extensive COVID, these who had a healthier life-style just before receiving COVID-19 experienced a 30% lessen threat of acquiring lengthy COVID symptoms that interfered with daily lifestyle.

“Previous scientific tests have suggested that a healthy life-style is involved with lower danger for persistent conditions, these kinds of as diabetic issues and cardiovascular diseases, as nicely as early demise. Our conclusions propose that a healthful life-style may also be protective versus infectious conditions,” Siwen Wang, one particular of the authors of the examine, wrote in an electronic mail to Yahoo News. “Although some lifestyle things may possibly be difficult to transform, like obesity, some others may be a lot easier to improve, these as obtaining adequate slumber on most times or incorporating a little bit extra physical exercise in your each day program. It is really attainable that these varieties of modifications could decrease your hazard of establishing long COVID.”

One particular feasible clarification researchers supplied was that these balanced life-style components assistance secure in opposition to swelling, which is accountable for extensive COVID ailments like “postviral fatigue syndrome” as nicely as harm to organs such as the brain, lungs and kidneys.

Two young men, arms and legs outstretched, on grass in a leafy setting.

Individuals do yoga in Prospect Park on Aug. 9, 2022, in the Flatbush community of Brooklyn, N.Y. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Pictures)

Scientists did note some limitations of the examine. The members were 97% white and all middle-aged woman nurses, ranging in age from 55 to 75 years outdated — which would make it tougher to utilize these final results to the typical populace. And circumstances of COVID-19 an infection and lengthy COVID have been self-noted, meaning that “misclassification could have occurred” and that some asymptomatic instances may perhaps have been missed.

Some have expressed surprise at the study’s findings, given that seemingly nutritious persons have also gone on to establish very long COVID.

“We do not want to confuse decrease chance with no chance,” Wang stated in response. “There are a lot of things that are likely to impact the chance of lengthy COVID. For illustration, in an earlier research, we identified strain, loneliness and despair as growing risk for lengthy COVID.”

Extended COVID, or “post–COVID-19 situation,” can be complicated to determine, and there’s at present no test to diagnose it. According to the Facilities for Condition Handle and Avoidance, 7.5% of grown ups in the U.S. have extended COVID indications, “defined as signs or symptoms long lasting a few or far more months following to start with contracting the virus,” and ladies are far more probable than adult men to encounter very long COVID. The checklist of achievable extensive COVID symptoms is vast, but individuals most commonly claimed involve “brain fog,” exhaustion, respiratory and heart troubles, and joint or muscle mass soreness.

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