Effect of physical exercise-based rehabilitation on long COVID: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Chen ZHENG, Xiang-Ke CHEN, Cindy Hui Ping SIT, Xiao LIANG, Ming Hui LI, Alvin Chun Hang MA, Stephen Heung-Sang WONG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The number of persons living with post-coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) conditions or long COVID continues to rise worldwide; however, the etiology and the treatment of long COVID remain nebulous. Therefore, efficient, feasible, and cost-effective therapeutic strategies for a large population with long COVID remain warranted. Physical exercise-based rehabilitation is a promising strategy for long COVID, although its therapeutic effects remain to be determined. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to examine the effects of physical exercise-based rehabilitation on long COVID. 

Methods: The electronic databases Medline, Embase, Global Health (Ovid), CINAHL (EBSCO), Web of Science, WHO Global Research Database on COVID-19, LitCovid, and Google Scholar were searched from their inception to November 2022. The identified articles were independently screened by three reviewers, and a random-effects model was used to determine the mean differences in the meta-analysis. 

Results: Twenty-three studies involving 1579 individuals who had COVID-19 (752 women) were included. Physical exercise-based rehabilitation showed beneficial effects on long COVID-related symptoms characterized by dyspnea, fatigue, and depression, as well as on the 6-min walk test, forced expiratory volume in 1 s/forced vital capacity, and quality of life in people who had COVID-19. 

Conclusions: Physical exercise-based rehabilitation is a potential therapeutic strategy against long COVID and can be applied as a routine clinical practice in people who have recovered from COVID-19. However, customized physical exercise-based rehabilitation programs and their effects on specific types of long COVID require future large-scale studies. Copyright © 2023 by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-154
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Volume56
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Citation

Zhang, C., Chen, X.-K., Sit, C. H.-P., Liang, X., Li, M.-H., Ma, A. C.-H., & Wong, S. H.-S. (2024). Effect of physical exercise-based rehabilitation on long COVID: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 56(1), 143-154. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000003280

Keywords

  • Physical exercise
  • Long COVID
  • Rehabilitation
  • COVID-19
  • Sequelae
  • 6-MWT

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