New Research Shows Healthy Lifestyle May Reduce Risk of Long COVID
A study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who maintain healthy habits such as regular sleep and exercise face a lower risk of developing long COVID than those with a less healthy lifestyle. Among the sample of 1,981 women who reported a positive COVID-19 test result between April 2020 and November 2021, those who met certain “modifiable lifestyle factors” were less likely to experience long COVID symptoms. The lifestyle factors identified in the study included a body-mass index in the range of 18.5 and 24.7, moderate alcohol consumption, never smoking, a high-quality diet, regularly getting 7-9 hours of sleep, and at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise each week. One caveat is that the study’s sample was 97.4% white and all were current or former nurses. The women who demonstrated at least five of the six healthy habits had a 49% lower risk of long-term, COVID-19-related symptoms than those who did not maintain any of these habits. A healthier lifestyle also helped those who did experience long COVID by making the symptoms less disruptive to quality of life. Harmful activities such as smoking, poor sleep and diet, lack of exercise and high alcohol consumption are known to raise the risk of chronic inflammation and immune system problems, both of which have been linked to long COVID. The lifestyle factors also increase the likelihood of developing blood-clotting abnormalities.